‘Britain Has Got Its Mojo Back,’ Osborne Tells U.S. Audience

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne: Charlie Rose
  • U.K. joining air strikes in Syria `a real source of pride'
  • Osborne Says U.K. stands with U.S. to reassert western values

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has a message for the U.S.: “Britain has got its mojo back.”

Speaking in New York on Monday, Osborne said it was a “real source of pride” for him that the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly last week to join coalition air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.

“My message to you is that Britain has got its mojo back and we are going to be with you as we reassert western values, confident that our best days lie ahead,” Osborne told the Council on Foreign Relations.

Noting that the British economy has outpaced its Group of Seven peers for two years and is projected to match the U.S. in 2016, Osborne said the direction set by his new Conservative-only government “speaks to a Britain that is reasserting itself on the world stage.”

Britain plans to increase spending on defense and security at a time when efforts to erase the national budget deficit are continuing, he said.

Osborne admitted that the defeat Prime Minister David Cameron suffered in 2013 when lawmakers were asked to back military action against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad was a “striking moment.”

‘Real pride’

“It was a moment when Britain was unable to follow the lead asked of it by our prime minister and the government,” he said. “It is for me a source of real pride that actually a couple of years later the House of Commons has voted by a big majority to take part in the action already being directed against this terrorist organization Isis or Daesh in Syria.”

The effectiveness of air strikes should not be underestimated when supported by Syrian opposition forces on the ground, he said. There was no public appetite for deploying British or American ground forces to fight Islamic State, he said.

“I don’t think it would help the situation on the ground and it would possibly be a cause of further radicalization and grievance,” he said.

Osborne is the favorite with bookmakers to take over from Cameron before 2020. His visit to New York is the latest in a series of foreign trips in which he has expanded on issues well beyond his finance-ministry portfolio.

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