Balls to Say Britain Exiting EU Would Be Disastrous for London

The opposition Labour Party’s finance spokesman, Ed Balls, will say Tuesday that Britain exiting the European Union would be disastrous for London and damage the rest of the country’s economy.

Balls will say in a speech in London that while rebalancing the economy is important, the capital, where a fifth of jobs and businesses are located, is key to Britain’s growth and needs to continue to succeed as a global city.

“Walking out of the EU would be a disaster for London,” Balls will say, according to prepared remarks released by his office. “Britain exiting the EU is now the biggest risk to London’s prosperity in the coming years.”

With two months to go before elections, Labour is seeking to use its opposition to a referendum on staying in the EU, one of the Conservatives’ key election pledges, to win the backing of a business community that has criticized some of its policy pledges as anti-business. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold a popular vote on Britain’s membership of the bloc by end-2017.

“The whole of Britain benefits from London’s growth and dynamism,” Balls will say. “We should have no truck with the argument that if the rest of the country is to get more jobs and investment then London needs to be less successful. It’s not a zero-sum game.”

Ball’s comments echo remarks by Lord Mayor Alan Yarrow, who said in an interview Monday that the City of London’s role as Europe’s financial center is threatened by the prospect of a British departure from the EU.

Balls will also reiterate Labour’s pledge to build more homes in the capital as part of his party’s efforts, if elected, to solve the issue of the increasing cost of living.

“We have an ambitious plan to build 200,000 more homes a year,” he will say. “Many of those will need to be in London.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.