It’s a strange world when you can’t trust a conservative UK government to defend the global interests of the City of London.
And that’s why the financial industry isn’t bothering to wait for talks between Prime Minister David Cameron and his European partners to state clearly on which side it will stand on a referendum on the UK’s European Union membership: a resounding, unqualified “yes” for staying in, whatever the outcome of London’s attempt to reform the way Europe works.
The arguments all center around one overwhelming reality: In the last decades, London has become a global financial center, rivaling Wall Street — but it could only do so because it is first and foremost Europe’s financial capital.
Take the City out of Europe, and there won’t be much left of its current global luster, warn London-based bankers, asset and fund managers and insurers.
“Brexit” supporters say the fears are overblown, and there might be a way for London-as-financial-center to prosper outside the EU. But the overwhelming feeling among business circles, across all industrial sectors, is that it would severely hit the British economy.
“Of course the EU needs to reform, but even right now, the benefits of membership for the UK hugely outweigh the disadvantages,” says Andy Bagnall, campaigns director at the Confederation of British Industry, the UK’s employers federation. Sir Mike Rake, the CBI president, recently made a speech asking UK businessmen to enter the fray by “being crystal clear that membership is in [the] national interest.”
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