Brexit: UK should be more ‘self-confident’, says Lord King

Lord King said Brexit would not be a bed of roses, but neither would it be the end of the world. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Lord King said Brexit would not be a bed of roses, but neither would it be the end of the world. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

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Britain should be “more self-confident” about its prospects outside the European Union, a former governor of the Bank of England has said.

Lord King acknowledged Brexit will bring “great political difficulties”, but said that there would also be “many opportunities” economically for the UK striking out on its own.

The cross-bench peer – who led the Bank as Sir Mervyn King from 2003-13 – said the UK should leave the European single market and warned there were “real question marks” over whether it should seek to remain in the customs union, which might constrain its opportunities to forge new trade deals.

His comments came as it was reported that the billionaire businessman chosen by US President-elect Donald Trump as his new trade chief has said that Brexit represents a “God-given opportunity” for other countries to take business away from the UK.

Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary designate, said Britain was facing a “period of confusion” following the vote to leave the EU and that it was “inevitable” there would be “relocations”, according to a newspaper report.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord King said it was too early to judge the economic impact of Brexit, despite data since the 23 June referendum being more positive than some economists had predicted.

He said: “I think the challenges we face mean it’s not a bed of roses – no-one should pretend that – but equally it is not the end of the world and there are some real opportunities that arise from the fact of Brexit we might take.

“There are many opportunities and I think we should look at it in a much more self-confident way than either side is approaching it at present.

“Being out of what is a pretty unsuccessful European Union – particularly in the economic sense – gives us opportunities as well as obviously great political difficulties.”

Lord King said it made no sense for the UK to seek to join Norway as a non-EU member of the single market, which would allow free access for businesses.”

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