Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I 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 unifying thread through the tributes to Sir David
…was his unbreakable sense of pride and optimism in this country.
And I think we honour him by embracing that same theme tonight.
So, let me begin by asking you to look up.
To look up at the magnificent ceiling of this ancient hall and imagine the skill and effort it took to carve every stone by hand.
Building work was completed the same year Gutenberg made the first printing press…
…at the beginning of that extraordinary flourishing of art, science, culture and commerce – the renaissance.
I believe that Britain is once again on the cusp of a new age of optimism.
Our goal is nothing less than for this country to be the most exciting and dynamic place in the world for you to do business.
This is a bold claim.
But I’m confident about this country’s future.
Well, I could talk about our world-leading industries – the creative sector, life sciences, or financial services, the engine that powers your businesses.
I could talk about our competitive corporate tax regime – yes, it’s going up, but still the lowest in the G7 and fourth lowest in the G20.
I could talk about our super deduction – the biggest tax cut for business investment this country has ever seen…
…making the UK right now the most generous, tax-advantaged place for you to invest.
I could talk about our agile regulation which leads the world in balancing the interests of consumers and businesses.
But I’m not going to talk about any of those things.
Not least because I know you’re waiting for your starter.
Instead, I want to give you three reasons to join me in being excited about the UK right now: our people, our ideas, and our transition to net zero.
Your businesses can’t thrive without talented people.
The UK has some of the best educated people in the world.
But one of the areas we’ve fallen behind is skills and education outside of university.
And we know that 80% of our 2030 workforce are already in work…
…so we’re doing more to support people throughout their lives to retrain and upskill in the sectors of the future.
We’re investing record amounts in adult skills and technical training.
We’re changing our student finance system to better support mid-career and lifelong learning.
We’re setting up new skills bootcamps, to help people retrain or upskill in high-growth areas…
…like AI, cybersecurity, and green energy.
And we’re massively investing in apprenticeships…
…giving employers greater incentives and a bigger role in how they’re delivered.
But we don’t have a monopoly on talent in this country.
So we’re making our visa system for international talent the most competitive in the world.
If you’re an overseas business who want to transfer staff here – we’re making it easier.
If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to start a business here – we’re making it simpler.
And, if you’re a talented student who wants to stay here – we’re making that easier too.
As well as brilliant people, Britain is also the home of brilliant ideas.
With less than 1% of the world’s population, we have 4 of the world’s top 20 universities;
15% of the world’s most impactful research;
The third highest number of publications worldwide;
The second most Nobel Laureates of any nation.
But having ideas isn’t enough.
We need to turn those ideas into companies, products and services that can change the world.
And that’s why I’m proud we’ve got more tech unicorns than any country, bar China and the US.
Proud of having more venture capital here than France and Germany combined – not that I’m in any way competitive.
We’re significantly increasing government R&D spending, now the highest level in four decades.
To better support modern methods of innovation, we’re looking at broadening the scope of our R&D Tax Credits;
To increase capital flowing to innovative businesses, we’re reforming our listing rules…
…and co-investing with VCs through our Future Funds;
And to turbocharge all of your supply chains, our new Help to Grow programme supports SMEs with mini-MBAs…
…and new software to boost their productivity and their innovation.
When you’re sitting in your Boardrooms, thinking about investment decisions…
…those critical first two questions about people and ideas are now matched by a third – Net Zero.
I know that for all of you, climate change is transforming how you think about your businesses.
Well, could there be a better place for you than the country that’s decarbonised quicker over the last twenty years than anyone else?
The first country in the world to legislate for Net Zero by 2050?
We’ve already established the UK Infrastructure Bank to partner with you on new green projects.
Just last month, we raised £10bn through the sale of the UK’s first Green Gilt – the largest inaugural issuance of any country to date.
And, after we became the first country to commit to mandatory climate-risk disclosures…
…today, we are publishing our Green Finance Roadmap – to make the UK the place for green investment.
So, people, ideas, Net Zero – three reasons for you to join me in being, confident, optimistic and above all, excited, about this country’s future.
As we begin this new age of optimism, there’s one central insight driving everything we do.
We know where ideas come from, where wealth is generated, where jobs are created.
Not by me. Not by Government.
By you. All of you.
I want this country to be known around the world as a beacon for free enterprise.
A hotbed of brilliant international minds coming here to access our culture, our capital, our people, our markets.
A country where young people with brilliant ideas have the freedom and opportunity to found and grow the most exciting businesses in the world.
That is the kind of economy we are building;
That is what we are inviting you to be part of;
That is why I say…
…confidently and clearly and without reservation…
…Britain is open for business.