Prime minister David Cameron has hit out at banker bashing, claiming it harms Britain, as he heaped praise on the financial services sector in a wide-ranging speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet last night.
Speaking at Mansion House in London last night, Cameron addressed Britain’s role in a competitive global economy.
He said he wants Britain’s diplomats to act as salesmen to boost exports, highlighting his trade trips and appointment of trade envoys to specific countries.
Cameron praised financial services for its £46bn trade surplus, contributing an eighth of all Government revenue during the recession, employing two million people.
He said: “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.
“That is why we are taking tough action. Tough civil and criminal penalties for those who break the law, the most transparent rules on pay and bonuses of any major financial centre in the world and a proper programme to clear up the regulatory mess – including ring-fencing retail banking to protect it from the risks of investment banking.
“Put simply we need a regime where banks can fail without the need for taxpayers to bail them out.”
Cameron also re-iterated his pledge to “stand up” for the sector in Europe, highlighting its crucial role in “fuelling the EU economy”.
He said: “We will fight for rules which deliver open markets, competitiveness and new market access opportunities globally.
“And, yes, while we support the need for greater integration in the Eurozone, including through a banking union, make no mistake, we will never allow a banking union to compromise our fair access to the single market.”