George Osborne on Brexit: No 'Plain Sailing' for U.K. Economy

Image: George Osborne
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne speaks at a news conference on June 27, 2016.Stefan Rousseau / Reuters

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/ Source: Reuters
By Richie Duchon

Britain’s treasury chief sought to reassure markets, foreign governments and executives early Monday that the U.K. is financially stable despite turmoil triggered by last week's vote to leave the European Union.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne sounded a defiant tone in a news conference in London, saying he had thoroughly prepared for a "Brexit" vote and would not be stepping down.

"It is inevitable after Thursday's vote that Britain's economy is going to have to adjust"

“It will not be plain sailing in the days ahead,” Osborne said. “But let me be clear, you should not underestimate our resolve. We were prepared for the unexpected, and we are equipped for whatever happens.”

The pound fell by 2 percent against the U.S. dollar in overnight trading amid fears of the consequences of the vote, but rose 0.5 cents in the moments after Osborne began speaking.

Osborne said he had spent the last 72 hours since the "Brexit" referendum in close communication with finance ministers of the European Union and other G7 nations, as wells as the U.S. treasury secretary and executives of major international corporations.

He said his message to them was “the British economy is fundamentally strong. We are highly competitive, and we are open for business.”

But Osborne added: "It is inevitable after Thursday's vote that Britain's economy is going to have to adjust to the new situation we find ourselves in."

The treasury chief that the "concerns I expressed during the campaign" remained but added: "I fully accept the result of the referendum and will do everything I can to make it work for Britain.”

Political turmoil has roiled the country, as the leaders grappled with the question of how precisely the country would separate Britain from the other 27 nations in the bloc.

Prior to Thursday's referendum, Osborne warned that he would have to respond to a "Leave" vote with tax rises and spending cuts worth 30 billion pounds ($43 billion). Osborne also has said he would aim to introduce the emergency measures within two months.

"Quitting the EU would hit investment, hurt families and harm the British economy," he said in a speech on June 14.

The Associated Press contributed.