Some of Wall Street’s biggest banks have reportedly warned US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s troubled exit from the European Union may force them to quit the UK and start moving thousands of jobs overseas in the near future.
According to the Financial Times, executives from Goldman Sachs, HSBC and JP Morgan recently met Ross for lunch during his visit to London at Wiltons, an exclusive restaurant in the central St James’s district.
At the lunch, the executives warned that they had little confidence in Britain’s Brexit plan to leave the EU and that jobs could be moved back to the US or to other parts of Europe.
“There was broad discussion around the lack of progress in the Brexit talks and some discussion around various political scenarios,” one person briefed on the talks told the FT.
The banks did not immediately return calls for comment.
Senior bank executives have previously expressed their displeasure about Brexit and its progress, or lack thereof. Last month Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein tweeted that he was looking forward to spending “a lot more time” in Frankfurt. Germany’s financial capital, in a message clearly aimed at British prime minister Theresa May.
Frankfurt, Dublin, Paris and other cities have been courting the world’s major banks as the Brexit deadline looms and the Bank of England has warned that 10,000 jobs could depart on “day one” after the UK leaves the EU.
Senior EU officials have warned the British government that they have less than a month to offer concessions on Brexit in order to start trade talks in December. The crisis has imperiled May’s leadership.
May and other senior politicians are pinning their hopes on post-Brexit deals with the US and other countries to offset any losses from Europe.
The bankers’ message to Ross comes as the commerce secretary has warned British politicians that any deal with US post-Brexit will mean scrapping EU regulations that hamper US trade. Among the most controversial is a European ban on the import of chlorinated chicken. Poultry that is treated with a chlorine wash is currently banned in the UK under a Europe-wide rule.
Speaking to business leaders at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference in London on Monday, Ross warned that any deal the UK makes with the EU that maintain its regulations might “hinder development of a closer post-Brexit US-UK relationship”.
This article was written by Dominic Rushe in New York, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 7th November 2017 23.07 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010