Philip Hammond: UK must remain open to ‘brightest and best’ migrant workers post-Brexit
The UK must continue to attract the “brightest and best” talent from around the world to preserve its status as a financial powerhouse post-Brexit, Philip Hammond has said.
In a speech to the inaugural FinTech Conference in London the Chancellor argued that Britain must nurture home grown workers and remain open to high skilled immigration to maintain its vibrant technology sector.
If the UK is to seize the opportunities presented by leaving the EU it must focus on building trade links with emerging markets in Asia, and invest in skills to ensure Britain’s economy remains at the “cutting edge”, he added.
“The world does not owe us a living. We will have to strive and graft and fight to seize opportunities; and make the most of them,” Mr Hammond said.
“That means growing and strengthening the areas – like Fintech – in which we enjoy a comparative advantage. It means maintaining and enhancing the UK’s reputation as one of the best and most attractive places in the world to do business.
“And it means ensuring we are producing the people with the skills and the aptitude to become the next wave of innovators, entrepreneurs and investors.
“Because while we need to continue to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to these shores we must also do better at nurturing and developing the home-grown talent to drive our economy forward in the future.
“Our vision of an outward-looking, Global Britain will deliver the high-skilled, high-wage economy of the future that will power the higher living standards we all want to see for future generations.”
More than 60,000 people work in the UK's Fintech sector, which contributes approximately £6.6bn to the economy.
Mr Hammond said the "fourth industrial revolution", driven by emerging sectors such as Fintech, had the potential to “fundamentally transform the structure of the global economy, and the way we live our lives”.
“We can’t remain the number one place for FinTech and the other technologies of the fourth industrial revolution by simply relying on our ingenuity, talent and openness. We have to go out and get the business," he added.
The Liberal Democrats argued the Government could achieve their aim of greater inward investment to the UK’s financial technology sector by remaining in the EU single market.
“By their very nature, these businesses are global in outlook and simply don’t understand why we would seek to divorce ourselves from the world’s largest single market,” said Susan Kramer, the Lib Dem economic spokesperson.
“The Government’s failure to guarantee a right to remain is also making many highly capable EU citizens in the FinTech sector feel they are simply no longer welcome here.
“With inflation up and sales down, it is clearer each day that the economy is getting the shivers at the looming prospect of Brexit. You can’t have a strong economy with a hard Brexit.”