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UK in a position of strength: Osborne

Press AssociationPress Association 27/06/2016

Chancellor George Osborne says Britain is "ready to confront what the future holds for us from a position of strength" in his first public reaction to Brexit.

Osborne said the government had put in place robust contingency plans to cope with the outcome of the Thursday's referendum.

"Our economy is about as strong as it could be to confront the challenge our country now faces," he told a press conference in London.

Osborne said it was "inevitable" the economy would have to adjust following the Brexit vote but he would do "everything I can" to make it work.

He warned it "would not be plain sailing" but the UK was "equipped for whatever happens".

In a message to nervous firms and investors, Osborne stressed the UK economy was "fundamentally strong" and "open for business".

Osborne said he would address his future role in the Conservative Party "in the coming days".

The pound fell in Asian markets on Monday amid fears of the consequences of the vote to leave the EU. Political turmoil has roiled the UK, as leaders grappled with the question of how precisely Britain would separate from the other 27 nations in the EU.

Germany, Britain and France will be meeting later on Monday to discuss the decision.

An emergency budget to deal with the fallout from the EU vote looks unlikely to take place until later in the year, as the chancellor said it was better to delay action to shore up the public finances until a new prime minister is in place.

Following talks over the weekend with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and fellow finance ministers and international economic organisations, Osborne said that "further well-thought through contingency plans" were ready to be deployed if needed in response to further volatility.

Osborne - who has kept a low public profile since the Brexit vote - said it was "inevitable" that the UK economy would face an "adjustment" in the wake of the Brexit vote, though he steered clear of repeating explicit warnings of recession made during the referendum campaign.

He said Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets in train the two-year process of negotiating withdrawal from the EU, should not be invoked until a new prime minister has set out "a clear view about what new arrangements we are seeking with our European partners", effectively delaying talks until October at the earliest.

He made clear he expects to remain as chancellor during that time, but gave no indication of whether he will run as a candidate to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

"The British people have given us their instructions," Osborne said. "There is much to do to make it work ... my colleagues and I are determined to do the best for Britain."

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