Andrea Leadsom is Leader of the House of Commons, and is MP for South Northamptonshire.
It was reported recently that, as someone who previously worked in the City, I should know the ‘clear and present danger’ that Brexit apparently poses to the economy – capturing perfectly the negative attitude that continues to pervade the Brexit conversation. First, it is claimed that our economy and the City will suffer and, second, that when it comes to our future outside of the EU, we have no grounds for optimism.
The truth is that the evidence continues to prove otherwise. The economy has experienced 20 quarters of growth, employment is the highest it has ever been, and productivity, a key measure for future wage growth, has started to improve. As we mark one-year until Brexit, I am determined to keep making the case for why leaving the EU is good for our country, and will be a success for the City.
It came as no surprise to me to hear that researchers from Cambridge University now claim that predictions of Brexit’s negative economic impact were exaggerated. And nowhere more so, I would argue, than in the prospects for UK financial services.
This week, London came top of the Z/Yen index of global financial centres. It comes hot of the heels of the annual Cities of Influence report which also put our great capital at number one, having come close to quadrupling activity with European businesses. London has also been chosen by 90 out of 101 global institutional investors as the top location for fintech talent. EY Item Club points to a bright outlook for financial services as assets under management look set to reach £1.5 trillion by 2020. Now that we know that Britain will be able to negotiate and sign free-trade deals during the implementation period, the City should be planning for the world outside of the EU with increased confidence.
The UK’s financial services centres, from Edinburgh to Birmingham, and Bournemouth to the City, provide the world with access to financial markets, financial expertise and international banking. In 2016, a week before the EU referendum, I told City AM that businesses across the EU will definitely want, and need, to retain continued access to UK financial services, and I completely stand by that. The City’s continued success will be a key measure for the outcome of Brexit, and so to uphold our world-leading position, we must secure the independence and confidence of our financial services industry.
Every week in the chamber, I hear, and welcome, views on both sides of the argument when it comes to Brexit and a huge range of other issues. However, the evidence points to a thriving City, and so I will continue to talk up our financial sector as the best game in town. With 90 per cent of growth in the next decade projected to come from outside the EU, this government will support businesses to capitalise on it, and take advantage of the new relationships and opportunities available to us around the world. As the Prime Minister has said: ‘let’s get on with it’!