The City of London remains one of the great success stories of this country. The gloom-mongers seem determined to claim that our financial sector will be devastated – indeed, already is being devastated – by Brexit. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Square Mile has an indomitable reputation, with the intrinsic value of our legal system as well as the advantages of language and time zone. Suggestions that vast amounts of business will be sucked into the EU are wrong. This year, Forbes voted the UK the best country to do business in.
There are many reasons for London’s – and the UK’s – continued strength. We have the lowest rate of corporation tax in Europe, after Ireland. We offer stronger protection for creditors and shareholders than any other country in Europe. We are a world leader in ‘soft power’, ranking second only to America in the Portland 30 Index of Global Soft Power.
Contrast this with the EU. France ranks 79th in the world for creditor protection, and Germany 28th. For shareholder protection, France ranks 29th and Germany 49th. Meanwhile, we are 4th.
Furthermore, out of the EU, we will be able to make our offering even more attractive. We could remove overburdensome regulation such as the bonus cap. We could absolve ourselves from the proposed financial transaction tax.
None of this, sadly, will be possible from within the straitjacket of Mrs. May’s proposed Brexit ‘Deal’. The reward for business lies in getting out of the EU, yet she and Hammond are determined to tie us into it.
The big competition doesn’t come from the EU but from China. China is increasingly attracting multi-national companies due to its deliberate, coherent efforts to evolve. It offers lighter regulation, and the benefits of an advanced and innovative tech sector. If London is to stay at the pinnacle of global business it needs to be engaging with China, instead of fixating on Frankfurt and Paris.
With the correct political support, London is in the perfect position to dominate the 21st Century. To do so, it needs to be supported by a government which does not shrink from the opportunities of Brexit, but embraces them. Whilst the EU recedes into insular protectionism, the UK must once again throw open its doors to global business.
The fundamentals are in place. There is every reason to be optimistic. But first – we must throw out Mrs. May’s ‘deal’. There are far better deals to be done once we’ve properly left the European Union.