Donald Trump’s pick for commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has urged countries to take advantage of Britain while it is in the process of leaving the European Union, reports The Times.
According to the paper, Ross told Cypriot financiers they should strike during this “period of confusion” to take business away from the City. Brexit is a “God-given opportunity” for Britain’s competitors like Frankfurt and Dublin, he said.
The daily says Ross made the remarks before the US presidential election and being picked by Trump.
“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,” Ross said, according to The Times.
As commerce secretary, Ross will be among those to negotiate a trade deal with the UK if it triggers Article 50 to leave the EU.
The British Labour party said Ross’ words are a warning that other economies will try to profit from Brexit.
“Wilbur Ross’ 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,” Barry Gardiner, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade told The Times.
“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,” he added.
According to the article, Ross has also called Brexit the “most expensive divorce proceeding in the history of the world.”
The 79-year old billionaire investor plans to step down as vice chairman of Bank of Cyprus. The private equity firm WL Ross & Co. he sold a decade ago is under no obligation to sell its 1.6 percent stake in the lender.
Ross has endorsed the “Trump trade doctrine”, according to which any new trade must narrow the US trade deficit, boost manufacturing and support growth. The UK has a trade surplus with the US.