Philip Hammond has embarked on a two-day New Year tour of the Gulf in a bid to strengthen economic relations with the UK’s allies in the region ahead of Brexit.
The Chancellor will visit Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to underline the government’s committed to forging improved trade links with the Gulf.
Speaking after he arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday morning, Mr Hammond said: “There is huge potential to expand our economic and investment relationships with our Gulf allies in the future, and in the last few weeks we’ve seen a number of significant investments into the UK which are a real vote of confidence that together we can seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Mr Hammond will next hold talks with Abu Dhabi’s largest sovereign wealth funds and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron claimed the “Westminster bubble” fixation on Brexit meant a steady rise in fuel prices was being ignored by MPs. Petrol prices have risen by an average of 3p per litre since December, thanks to pound’s fall coupled with the September decision by OPEC, which includes the countries on Mr Hammond’s itinerary, to cut oil production for first time in eight years. “Families are hurting and the government is silent,” Mr Farron said.