Donald Trump aide says Brexit 'God-given opportunity' to take business from UK
Donald Trump's new trade chief has urged Britain's rivals to take advantage of the "God-given opportunity" of Brexit to take business away from the UK, it has been reported.
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 The Times.
The billionaire businessman will be responsible for negotiating a free trade deal with the UK and his reported comments will raise concerns the incoming US administration will seek to exploit Britain's isolation following Brexit.
Mr Ross was said to have made his comments to an audience of Cypriot financiers in the days following last June's referendum vote - before he had been appointed to Mr Trump's cabinet.
"I recommend that Cyprus should adopt and immediately announce even more liberal financial service policies than it already has so that it can try to take advantage of the inevitable relocations that will occur during the period of confusion," he is quoted as saying.
He is said to have added that the UK's withdrawal from the EU was a "God-given opportunity" for financial rivals of the City of London, naming Frankfurt and Dublin in particular.
Labour said his comments, should be a "salutary warning" that other countries were ready to take advantage of the UK's vulnerability post-Brexit.
Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner told The Times: "Wilbur Ross's comments are a stark reminder that the trade deals Britain will agree in future will not depend on goodwill from our partners, but on their own shrewd political and economic calculations.
"Theresa May's government has failed to articulate a coherent vision of what kind of economy Brexit Britain will be. This makes us weak and vulnerable in the eyes of others."
A Government spokesman sought to play down the report saying: "We will build a relationship with the new administration based on substance not rumour."