ALTHOUGH the role of Economic Secretary is often informally referred to as the City Minister, my ministerial brief extends far beyond the Square Mile to cover all of the UK’s financial services.

These are not just banks but also insurance, savings and investments - the financial institutions in which we all place our trust – and hard-earned money – every day. Visits have taken me to every corner of the country including, this week, just down the road to Southampton to meet Starling bank, which is investing in creating new jobs outside London.

Before that, the first part of the week in Parliament was given over to the Queen’s Speech and all the accompanying ceremony and debate.

It was invigorating to hear a Queen’s Speech that was not just forward-looking, with a strong emphasis on our treasured institutions – the NHS, schools, the armed forces and infrastructure, but also notably outward-looking, reflecting our commitment to continue to play a leading role in global affairs, defending our interests and promoting our values.

We will champion global free trade and work alongside international partners to solve the most pressing global challenges, particularly prioritising tackling climate change and ensuring that girls around the world have access to twelve years of quality education.

Meanwhile, as Saturday’s special sitting of Parliament approaches, I continue to be hopeful of a Brexit deal.

The Prime Minister has always said that his preferred option is for the UK to leave with a Withdrawal Agreement. The government is seeking to reach an agreement with the EU but has been clear that we will leave on October 31 whether or not a deal has been reached.

There are many unanswered questions about how the next two weeks will play out, but I do welcome the note of optimism that the government has struck.

Short term stability and continuity is crucial, and the government has invested heavily to prepare for all negotiation outcomes, with provision to ensure continuity in trade, citizens' rights, data protection, environment, energy, and medicines – among many others.

However, there are also long-term opportunities. The EU itself predicts that 90 per cent of future growth will come from outside Europe and the UK will be well-placed to take advantage of this with an independent trade policy.

As the Prime Minister said: “By 2050, it is more than possible that the United Kingdom will be the greatest and most prosperous economy in Europe, at the centre of a new network of trade deals, which we have pioneered.”

To that end, I was pleased to hear that a new Export Strategy will provide better assistance with exporting and connect more UK businesses to overseas markets with the aim of boosting global exports to 35 per cent of UK GDP.