Britain needs to stay in the European Union or London risks losing its position as the region’s main financial hub, according to the chairman of TheCityUK, a lobby group for U.K. financial-services firms.
“I do not believe the city’s pre-eminent position will survive if we lose our role as Europe’s financial capital,” Gerry Grimstone, chairman of the London-based group, said in remarks prepared for the group’s annual dinner tonight. “I don’t believe we can maintain that position if we are not part of the single market.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today a referendum on the U.K.’s membership of the EU “will happen” and urged supporters of staying in the bloc to speak up. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives have pledged a public vote by 2017. Clegg asked business leaders who oppose leaving the EU to make their position plain.
The City, as London’s main financial district is known, must play a role in determining whether the country will stay in the EU, said Grimstone, who is also chairman of Standard Life Plc, Scotland’s largest insurer. A stable euro zone is seen as “vital” by executives in the finance industry, he said, citing research by the group.
“It makes no sense to leave one of our key trade and investment relationships, the one that anchors us in Europe,” Win Bischoff, chairman of Lloyds Banking Group Plc and a member of the lobby group’s advisory council, said in separate prepared remarks.
“In the same way that New York’s status as a global financial center is in large part determined by its location in the U.S., so London -- a truly global financial center together with the centers outside the City -- benefits from being Europe’s financial center,” Bischoff said.
Almost eighty percent of U.K. business leaders say Britain should remain a member of the EU, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry found last month. Only 10 percent said it was in Britain’s interests to leave the bloc, according to the U.K.’s biggest business lobby group.
-- Editors: Edward Evans, Simone Meier