Rishi Sunak delivers financial services speech at Mansion House
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And Leigh Evans, the vice-chairman of the CityUnited Project, believes the Square Mile’s resilience since Britain quit the bloc has already confounded the Project Fear naysayers. Mr Evans was speaking in the wake of Rishi Sunak’s Mansion speech earlier this month, during which the Chancellor told attendees severing ties with Brussels would enable Britain to “do things differently”.
Earlier this year EY’s Brexit tracker estimated roughly 7,500 jobs and £1.2trillion in assets have left the City since 2016 – but Mr Evans said such employment losses were nevertheless vastly fewer than pessimists had predicted.
He told Express.co.uk: “Those pundits who forecast doom for the City of London and the UK’s financial services sector have been proved just as wrong as those who predicted 520,000-800,000 job losses as an immediate consequence of a vote to leave the EU back in 2016. (It was none other than the then Chancellor, George Osborne, who said this.)
“Employment actually rose by hundreds of thousands, rather than falling.”
With respect to financial services, which Mr Evans described as “the backbone of our economy”, he also painted a rosy picture.
He explained: “Last year the UK sold almost £100billion worth of services to the EU27 (£98.5billion according to the Office for National Statistics) and that’s despite the Covid crisis.
“This was only marginally down on the pre-Covid year of 2019.
“It must also be remembered that the UK’s biggest market for services is the US, not Germany or France.
“In fact in 2020 the UK sold more services to the USA than to the top six EU countries combined.”
Mr Evans also highlighted the UK’s persistent attempts to go the extra mile – and the bloc’s equally persistent refusal to reciprocate.
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He said: “When it comes to the City itself, it seems to have been glossed over that the UK unilaterally granted EU27 firms access to our financial services markets.
“In stark contrast, the EU Commission is continuing to deny UK financial firms the same rights.
“For some time now the City has been working on the basis that the EU will never grant ‘equivalence’.
“It is almost six months since the Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, laid into the EU in his Mansion House speech in uncharacteristically outspoken fashion.”
The City had heard Mr Bailey’s message loud and clear, and had busied itself with the business of moved forward, even as many pundits clung to their gloomy predictions, Mr Evans said.
He added: “A classic example came in February when Amsterdam briefly overtook London in terms of equity trading.
“This was trumpeted to the rooftops, despite it having been expected as a direct result of EU rules.
“Those same pundits were a tad quieter earlier this month, when London regained the top spot for equity trades in June.”
Mr Evans concluded: “At the CityUnited Project we are confident that a pro-business environment with an increasing return to a traditional, British Common Law framework, with a new, common-sense approach to regulation instead of cumbersome EU pettifogging, will enable the City to flourish further still.
“This in turn will help to power the continued creation of new jobs and could turbo-charge the financial sector. We remain very positive and confident.”
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