George Osborne: ‘Second-rate Britain’ needs to be more like China
Chancellor dismisses suggestions that China has a 'sweatshop' economy and wishes Britain would be more like the communist country
Britain is no longer great, is defeatist and unambitious and needs to be more like China, the Chancellor has said.
In an astonishing trashing of his country’s attitudes, George Osborne added that Britain had lost its “can do” approach and had been relegated to the status of a “second-rate power”.
He was speaking at the end of a five-day trip to China in which he had been awed by the speed and scale of China’s economic development.
Dismissing suggestions that China has a “sweatshop” economy, he said he wished Britain would be more like the communist country.
“I also feel a bit like, my God, we’ve really got to up our game as a country, and the whole of the West has to understand what is happening here in Asia,” the Daily Telegraph reported him as saying.
He claimed, as he waited in Hong Kong for a flight home, that the positive attitude of the country during the Victorian era and while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister has been lost.
“I do think there’s an ambition in the country and a sense of optimism and 'can do’ which our country had in the Victorian age and had at other points in our history,” he said.
“Somewhere along the line in Britain there were bits that were great about British industry that we allowed to wither.”
He added: “There has been at times in Britain a sense of defeatism. You saw that in the late 1970s when everyone was resigned to the decline of empire and Britain being the sick man of Europe. Margaret Thatcher turned that around. You saw that three years ago when everyone thought we couldn’t tackle our debt problems and the financial crisis had relegated us to a second-rate power.”
While criticising Britain’s failures he maintained that, with the help of the Coalition, the country is beginning to improve and might one day be able match the energy shown by China and “be the best”.
In a week in which he has opened the door to China investing in new nuclear power in Britain, he said attitudes to the communist state must change.
The Chancellor described China as a country with an ancient civilisation and one that should be treated with respect. He said: “China is not a sweatshop. China is different. If we have just a black and white view of China as a communist country of cheap manufacturing, and the only thing we want out of them is access to their market, then we are missing out in a very big way as a country. China is what it is. And we have to either be here or be nowhere.”
Meanwhile the Chancellor expects to make a decision about breaking up Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) imminently.
The Chancellor said he was looking at hiving off weaker parts of the state-controlled firm into a "bad bank".
He told the Daily Telegraph the issue was "top of his in-tray".
"We are looking at the case for a bad bank and, if not a bad bank, what is the alternative strategy that really gets on top of the problems in that bank and goes on being what I want it to be which is a bank supporting the British economy," Mr Osborne said.
However, he stressed the Government was not currently "close to the stage of being able to sell RBS shares".
"RBS was a much more complex bank," he said. "To be fair to management past and present, it was a bank that was in a lot more trouble."
Mr Osborne also said he was considering offering state-owned shares in Lloyds to the general public.
"We are now looking actively at a retail offer for the next tranche of Lloyds shares," he said.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...