A new era of optimism for Britain
World Investment Summit
October 18, 2021
Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have spent this afternoon in the House of Commons listening to the moving tributes to Sir David Amess.
Tonight I know our thoughts are with his loved ones.
A common thread running through the tributes to Sir David
… Was his unwavering sense of pride and optimism in this country.
And I think we honor it by embracing that same theme tonight.
So let me start by asking you to look up.
Look at the magnificent ceiling of this ancient hall and imagine the skill and effort it took to carve each stone by hand.
Construction work was completed the same year Gutenberg made the first printing press …
… At the beginning of this extraordinary blossoming of art, science, culture and commerce – the rebirth.
I believe Britain is once again on the cusp of a new era of optimism.
Our goal is nothing less that this country be the most exciting and vibrant place in the world for you to do business.
This is a bold statement.
But I am confident in the future of this country.
Well, I could talk about our cutting edge industries – the creative sector, life sciences or financial services, the engine that powers your businesses.
I could talk about our competitive corporate tax system – yes it is increasing, but it is still the lowest in the G7 and the fourth lowest in the G20.
I could talk about our super deduction – the biggest corporate investment tax cut this country has ever seen …
… Making the UK the most generous and tax-efficient place to invest right now.
I could talk about our agile regulation that leads the world in balancing the interests of consumers and businesses.
But I won’t talk about any of those things.
Particularly because I know that you are waiting for your entry.
Instead, I want to give you three reasons to join me for being excited about the UK right now: our people, our ideas and our transition to net zero.
Your businesses cannot thrive without talented people.
The UK has some of the best educated people in the world.
But one of the areas where we have fallen behind is in skills and education outside the university.
And we know that 80% of our workforce in 2030 is already employed …
… So we are doing more to help people throughout their lives retrain and develop in the areas of the future.
We are investing record amounts in adult skills and technical training.
We are changing our student funding system to better support mid-career and lifelong learning.
We are setting up new skills bootcamps, to help people retrain or improve their skills in high growth fields …
… Like AI, cybersecurity and green energy.
And we are investing heavily in learning …
… Give employers greater incentives and a greater role in how they are delivered.
But we don’t have a monopoly on talent in this country.
We are therefore making our visa system for international talent the most competitive in the world.
If you are a company overseas and want to transfer staff here, we make it easy for you.
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start a business here, we’ve made it easy for you.
And if you’re a talented student who wants to stay here, we’ve made it easy for you as well.
In addition to brilliant people, Britain is also a hotbed of brilliant ideas.
With less than 1% of the world’s population, we have 4 of the top 20 universities in the world;
15% of the most influential searches in the world;
The third largest number of publications in the world;
The second greatest Nobel Laureate of any nation.
But having ideas is not enough.
We need to turn these ideas into businesses, products and services that can change the world.
And that’s why I’m proud that we have more tech unicorns than any country except China and the United States.
Proud to have more venture capital here than France and Germany combined – not that I’m competitive.
So yes, this country is a science and technology superpower, but we need to do more.
We are dramatically increasing government R&D spending, maintaining the highest level in four decades.
To better support modern methods of innovation, we plan to broaden the scope of our R&D Tax Credits;
To increase the capital intended for innovative companies, we are reforming our listing rules …
… And by co-investing with VCs through our Future Funds;
And to boost all your supply chains, our new Help to Grow program supports SMEs with mini-MBAs …
… And new software to boost their productivity and innovation.
When you sit in your meeting rooms, thinking about investment decisions …
… To these first two crucial questions about people and ideas is now added a third – Net Zero.
I know that for all of you, climate change is transforming your perception of your businesses.
Well, could there be a better place for you than the country which has decarbonized faster over the past twenty years than anyone else?
The first country in the world to legislate for Net Zero by 2050?
We have already created the UK Infrastructure Bank to work with you on new green projects.
Last month we raised £ 10 billion from the sale of the UK’s first Green Gilt – the biggest inaugural issue of any country to date.
And, after we became the first country to commit to mandatory climate risk disclosure…
… Today we are releasing our Green Finance Roadmap – making the UK the place for green investing.
So, people, ideas, Net Zero – three reasons for you to join me in being confident, optimistic and above all excited about the future of this country.
As we enter this new era of optimism, there is a central idea that guides everything we do.
We know where ideas come from, where wealth is generated, where jobs are created.
Not by me. Not by the government.
By you. You all.
I want this country to be known to the world as a beacon of free enterprise.
A hotbed of bright international minds coming here to access our culture, our capital, our people, our markets.
A country where bright young people have the freedom and the opportunity to found and grow the most exciting businesses in the world.
This is the kind of economy we are building;
This is what we invite you to be a part of;
That’s why I say …
… With confidence, clarity and without reservation…
… Britain is open for business.