Philip Hammond must be bolder, business leaders say


His detractors, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have said the United Kingdom needs to strike up free trade deals with non-EU nations as soon as possible, and keeping the United Kingdom tied to Customs Union rules will be harmful.

Theresa May has insisted Jeremy Corbyn' is "unfit to govern" and pledged to listen to younger voters following the results of June's election that saw the Conservative lose their majority.

Hammond's speech to delegates in Manchester on Monday, defended the market-based economy and called opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn "a clear and present danger" to the prosperity of Britain. This is not about Conservative versus Labour values; this is a conflict between what had been the economic consensus.

Hammond also hinted there may be some room for help to business in the November budget: "What I've said in previous fiscal events is we have the flexibility to respond to support the economy through what is a very hard period as we negotiate our exit from the European Union".

But he acknowledged the damage inflicted by the tortuous process of Brexit. "Removing the uncertainty is, I think, the best incentive we can provide to business".

Mr Hammond made an important point.

But he added: "They didn't vote to get poorer or to reduce trade with our closest neighbours and biggest trading partners".

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The Chancellor said: "Our economic future will remain closely linked with the European Union for many good reasons, but our political future will be our own".

"FSB's latest survey showed that small business confidence has plummeted to its lowest level in a year, and they want to see concrete policy proposals to dispel uncertainty and help them invest and grow". We will take them on.

In a barely-veiled rebuke to more gung-ho Brexiteers, he said ministers should not "downplay the difficulties nor underestimate the complexities" involved in "one of the most challenging tasks ever undertaken by a peacetime government". "So we say to Corbyn "bring it on", he said.

Seeking to put the economy centre-stage in the Conservatives' pitch to voters, Hammond said Britain could only hope to experience rising living standards "by harnessing the power of the market economy".

"The markets are not working, and that's why people are losing faith in capitalism..."

"For some, it will feel like driving with your foot to the floor, but the handbrake half on". And he announced £300m for rail improvements in the north of England. Renewing the UK's creaking infrastructure will unlock regional growth and living standards, as will improving access to housing.

'That's what we have to offer young people. And we will defeat them.