David Cameron promises to sell the City and defence firms

Mr Cameron strongly defended the City and the defence industry in a speech promising “a new commercial focus” in the Government’s diplomatic dealings with its foreign counterparts.

Despite political controversies over the financial crisis and questions about human rights violations by customers overseas, the Prime Minister said he will personally lead efforts to promote Britain’s financial and defence sectors around the world.

“There is a global race out there to win jobs for Britain and I believe in leading from the front,” Mr Cameron said in a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Mansion House.

Part of promoting Britain’s economic interests internationally, he said, is a “modern industrial strategy” that promotes those sectors where Britain has a comparative advantage. “Winning abroad actually begins at home.”

Mr Cameron said that for all the mistakes and excesses that led to the financial crisis, banks and the rest of the financial sector remain vital to Britain’s economic future.

The City should be both reformed and supported, the Prime Minister said.

“Yes, some utterly terrible mistakes were made. And they need to be addressed properly so they can never happen again. But those who think the answer is just to trash the banks, would end up trashing Britain. I say – recognise the enormous strength and potential of our financial sector; regulate it properly and get behind it.”

Mr Cameron made a similar pledge of support for defence firms including BAE Systems

“When Britain has a very strong defence industry, with 300,000 jobs depending on it, it’s right that we should be at forefront of this market, supporting British jobs and British allies.

Mr Cameron last week made another trip to the Gulf, trying to sell Typhoon jets to countries including Saudi Arabia.

He faced criticism for such activities, but said he was unrepentant. “That’s vital new business for Britain. And I make no apology for going out there and trying to help win it.”

Mr Cameron also announced a new attempt to increase the number and quality of services the Government offers to promote British businesses abroad, to be led by Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, a trade minister.

He also appointed eight new trade envoys to countries including Mexico, Vietnam, South Africa Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
“I make no apology for linking Britain to the fastest growing parts of the world,” he said.