What is Brexit’s potential impact on financial services, businesses in Britain and the overall U.K. economy?
Former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron answered these questions and more during his keynote presentation at the recent Schwab Impact conference in Chicago.
Cameron was prime minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2016 – until he famously stepped down following the referendum vote in favor of leaving the European Union.
Cameron, who comes from a family of stockbrokers, sat for a Q&A session with Jeffrey Kleintop and audience.
“My father was a stockbroker, my grandfather was a stockbroker, my great-grandfather was a stockbroker,” Cameron told the audience. ‘What on earth are you doing in politics?’ It was a great disappointment that I didn’t follow the family tradition.”
Here are a few highlights from that Q&A session.
On stepping down:
“I genuinely believe we needed a new prime minister, and that’s why I stood down. It was immensely painful to make that decision,” Cameron said.
And he said that he thinks he was right to step down.
“I didn’t hold the referendum and say ‘Look, this is a big choice. On the one hand, here’s an argument. On the other hand, here’s another argument. You decide,’” he explained. “I held the referendum, and threw myself 100% into one side of the argument because I thought it was right.”
Having done that and having lost the referendum, Cameron said he would not have had the two “absolute essential things” that a prime minister needs.
“You’ve got to have a passion for what you’re doing, and I wouldn’t have been passionate about pursuing this new pathway,” he said. “And the second thing you’ve got to have, almost more important, is you’ve got to have real credibility. And I wouldn’t have that credibility because I threw myself so much into the other side of the argument.”
On the Brexit vote:
“I believe that Brexit will still go ahead, I still think it’s the wrong decision,” Cameron said. “I think it would have been better to stay in and fight, but I’m a democrat with a small d and I think you have to abide by what people have decided.”
Cameron said he thinks Britain will reach a deal with the European Union – a deal that is “mutually beneficial.”
On the U.K economy post-Brexit:
According to Cameron, “the British economy has been more resilient” than many may have expected.
Many economists and central bankers felt that after the Brexit vote, the U.K. economy would suffer tremendously. The Bank of England cut interest rates. Yet just recently they hiked rates, acknowledging that growth was very resilient.