- Leave.EU group says London is world's financial capital
- No EU country can challenge U.K. dominance, says report
The U.K. financial industry has “everything to gain” and bankers would be unlikely to flee London if the country withdraws from the European Union, according to one of the campaigns seeking so-called Brexit.
In an attempt to rebuff the argument that the banking sector would struggle outside the 28-member bloc, the Leave.EU group released a report on Monday listing data it said showed the opposite.
“The U.K.’s position as a world leader in financial services is not dependent on its membership of the European Union,” said Aaron Banks, the group’s co-founder. “Outside of the EU, we would be better placed to compete with the challenge coming from cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore.”
The group noted London already topped the annual Zyen survey as the world’s top financial capital, outpacing its European rivals which it said were strangled by EU regulation.
The country has the world’s fourth-largest banking industry, third-largest insurance sector and second-largest fund management sector, Leave.EU said.
Overall, finance accounts for about 10 percent of British gross domestic product and London also houses 74 percent of European foreign-exchange trading despite being outside the euro zone, it said.
Such data suggested that there was unlikely to be an exodus of bankers if the U.K. did choose to quit the EU in the referendum Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold by the end of next year, said the report’s author Ewen Stewart
“There is no significant European Union country able to challenge the U.K.’s dominant position in financial services,” said Stewart. “A substantial challenge would be most unlikely to succeed from within the EU.”
British withdrawal would help banks by reducing regulation and removing it from the risk of transaction taxes or caps on salaries, policies that are more popular on the continent, he said.
The report was issued a week after Mark Astaire, one of Barclays Plc’s most senior investment bankers, said London would “continue to thrive” as a financial center even if the U.K. was outside the EU.