Theresa May speech champions financial services

Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May says the UK’s success as a global financial hub is an achievement to be proud of and to celebrate, stating that the sector is of “strategic importance” to the economy.

“It’s not about picking winners, propping up failing industries, or bringing old companies back from the dead,” May told the Conservative Party Conference in a speech outlining her vision for Britain and the economy following Brexit.

May listed financial services as a sector of the economy the government would promote through policies on trade, tax, infrastructure, skills, training, and research and development.

May also reiterated her deadline for triggering Article 50 by the end of March, a point that has sent the pound plunging following its announcement over the weekend.

The pound is currently sitting at $1.2749.

Carmakers and the tech industry were also listed as strategically important sectors, alongside life sciences, aerospace and the creative industries.

May says the government will be seeking a free trade agreement in goods and services as it negotiates its exit from the European Union, however, she made a point of being “loud and clear” that the UK would not give up control of immigration in any deal.

Coming after tax advisers

May singled out financial advisers along with accountants as targets in the government’s clampdown on tax avoidance.

May says: “If you’re a tax-dodger, we’re coming after you. If you’re an accountant, a financial adviser or a middleman who helps people to avoid what they owe to society, we’re coming after you too.

“An economy that works for everyone is one where everyone plays by the same rules. So whoever you are you – however rich or powerful – you have a duty to pay your tax. And we’re going to make sure you do.”

May added that while as a Conservative she favours a low tax economy, taxes are “the price we pay for living in a civilised society.”

The government has upped its rhetoric against aggressive tax avoidance in recent months.