Britain’s biggest banks are preparing to leave the UK early next year because of the Brexit uncertainty, according to the head of the British Bankers Association (BBA)
Anthony Browne, writing in a Sunday newspaper, echoed comments made by Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir Howard Davies last week.
“Their hands are quivering over the relocate button,” he writes. “Their hands are quivering over the relocate button. Many smaller banks plan to start relocations before Christmas; bigger banks are expected to start in the first quarter of next year.”
He adds that “public and political debate at the moment is taking us in the wrong direction.”
Mr Browne stressed that banking is “probably more affected by Brexit than any other sector of the economy”.
Banks supported Britain’s continued membership of the European Union and fear the loss of the “passporting” system which allows them to operate across Europe.
“It is the UK’s biggest export industry by far and is more internationally mobile than most. But it also gets its rules and legal rights to serve its customers cross-border from the EU,” says Mr Browne who warns that the mood in Europe is “hardening”.
He says: “The problem comes – as seems increasingly likely, judging by the rhetoric – when national governments try to use the EU exit negotiations to build walls across the Channel to split Europe’s integrated financial market in two, in order to force jobs from London.
“From a European perspective, this would be cutting off its nose to spite its face. It might lead to a few jobs moving to Paris or Frankfurt but it will make it more expensive for companies in France and Germany to raise money for investment, slowing the wider economy.”