Kemi Badenoch to US: Britain is ‘going for growth in a big way’ with tax cuts

The Cabinet minister described the UK as ‘Europe’s unicorn factory’ in a speech to investors in New York.

29 September 2022

Kemi Badenoch has used her first overseas visit as Trade Secretary to spruik the Government’s economic strategies as “going for growth in a big way”.

There has been controversy since the Chancellor last week announced his mini-Budget, which included plans to cut taxes to the benefit of the most wealthy.

Ms Badenoch told investors at the fifth annual Atlantic Future Forum hosted on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, moored in New York, the strategies were necessary due to a “global growth slow-down”.

“Right now, there’s a global growth slow-down underway,” she said.

“And if you’ll forgive the pun, we need all hands on-deck to get the world economy’s wheels spinning again.

“And that’s why in the UK we’re going for growth in a big way. And in fact some of you may have heard some major reforms we announced on Friday, to achieve this.”

The former Tory leadership candidate outlined a number of the Government’s strategies to the forum, where UK businesses across the defence and technology sector aimed to attract US investors.

Kwasi Kwarteng
The Chancellor’s mini-budget has included plans to cut taxes to the benefit of the most wealthy (Aaron Chown/PA)

“We’re keeping corporation tax at the lowest in the G20 at 19% – not cutting, keeping,” she said.

“We’re creating low-tax investment zones around the country, to make it quicker and easier to build and get things done because the regulatory environment has not kept pace with our economic needs.

“We’re accelerating critical infrastructure projects in sectors like transport, energy, and telecoms… to ensure we invest in our future and deliver for the next generation.

“We’re also going to be spending 3% of GDP on defence by 2030. Something I know looking at all of the uniforms in the room is especially relevant to all of you here today.

“We’re rolling out significant financial services reforms that will make the UK an even better place to do business and much more.

“There is radical change happening on our side of the Atlantic. It’s the kind of radical change that we’ve not seen for 40 years.

“We know it is bold. We know it comes with risk. But in these volatile times, every option, even the status quo is risky.”

The visit sees Ms Badenoch trying to boost trade links between the UK and the US, days after the Prime Minister admitted during her own recent visit to New York that a much-coveted post-Brexit free trade deal may remain out of reach for several years to come.

The Trade Secretary pointed to Britain’s “dynamism and ingenuity” as “Europe’s unicorn factory” in her New York pitch.

“Undoubtedly, factors like good infrastructure, our legal system and a lack of red-tape, are part of the UK’s attraction,” she said.

“But there’s another reason too. We are fast becoming the world’s innovation destination.

“Just like Manhattan, we’re an island full of dynamism and ingenuity.

“We’re the nation with big ideas. We’re Europe’s unicorn factory.”

The trip also comes amid ongoing unease in the Biden administration over the UK’s ongoing row with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a set of concerns that have threatened to sour relations between the UK and the US amid American concern about the impact on the peace process.

More immediately, the plunge of the pound in recent days following last Friday’s tax-cutting mini-budget also triggered questions about the country’s economic direction under the new administration.

A meeting with US trade representative Katherine Tai is also scheduled for Ms Badenoch.

She is expected to use the visit to promote the UK as a “defence, cyber and tech superpower”, as well as highlighting the benefits of state-level trade deals, following the signing of agreements with Indiana and North Carolina.

Oklahoma and South Carolina are the next targets for trade agreements, the Department for International Trade said.

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