The City would retain its status as a global financial centre if British voters back leaving the European Union, a Barclays executive has claimed.
Speaking to MPs on the Treasury select committee this afternoon, Mark Astaire, vice chair of the investment banking division at Barclays, said that while London has “thrived” within the European Union, the Square Mile would “continue to thrive” outside of the 28-country bloc.
“It’s a great success story, the City of London,” Astaire said. “It’s one of our leading industries, and it’s clearly the European leader.
“Do I think that if the UK was to leave the Union, London won’t be the leading financial centre in 10 years’ time?” Astaire added. “I would have to say no. I think it will.”
Astaire gave evidence to the MPs as part of the committee’s ongoing inquiry into the economic and financial costs and benefits of UK membership of the EU. James Chew, group head of regulatory policy and strategy at HSBC, also took questions today.
When asked whether he thought London’s status as a financial hub would suffer in the event of Brexit, Chew was less certain than Astaire, saying the City’s outcome would “very much depend on the nature of the exit” and the institutional arrangements that were put in place between Britain and Brussels.
MPs also asked the banking bosses whether their firms had developed contingency plans for a Brexit.
Astaire said that while Barclays had made preliminary plans to anticipate voters choosing to leave the EU, there would “need to be a lot of work done” in the event of a Brexit, adding: “It will inevitably be an expensive exercise.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised an in/out vote by the end of 2017, following a period of renegotiation.
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