Mr Speaker, It is a privilege to report today on an economy which the IMF predicts will be the fastest growing major advanced economy in the world this year. An economy with employment at a record high – and unemployment at an 11 year low. An economy which, through the hard work of the British people, has bounced back from the depths of recession. And an economy which has confounded commentators at home and abroad with its strength and its resilience since the British people decided, exactly five months ago today, to leave the European Union and chart a new future for our country. That decision will change the course of Britain’s history. It has thrown into sharp relief the fundamental strengths of the British economy that will ensure our future success: The global reach of our services industries. The strength of our science and high-tech manufacturing base. And the cutting-edge British businesses that are leading the world in disruptive technologies, But it’s a decision that also makes more urgent than ever the need to tackle our economy’s long-term weaknesses. Like the productivity gap. The housing challenge. And the damaging imbalance in economic growth and prosperity across our country.
Mr Speaker, We resolve today to confront those challenges head on. To prepare our country to seize the opportunities ahead. And in doing so, to build an economy that works for everyone…and where every corner of this United Kingdom is part of our national success.
Mr Speaker, I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, my Rt Hon Friend the Member for Tatton. My style will, of course, be different from his. I suspect that I will prove no more adept at pulling rabbits from hats than my successor as Foreign Secretary has been at retrieving balls from the back of scrums. But my focus on building Britain’s long-term future will be the same.