Forget France and Germany! Barclays CEO dismisses EU’s Brexit threats in stinging attack

UK needs to ‘focus on New York’ says Jes Staley

The CEO of Barclays Jes Staley told the BBC that the UK should ignore economic threats from the EU. In a stinging rebuke of France and Germany’s failed attempt to lure businesses out of the capital, Mr Staley said the City of London should forget about the EU and focus on the rest of the world. He remarked that the UK’s departure from the EU would most likely be “on the positive side”.

Speaking to the BBC, the former Wall Street banker suggested UK finance chiefs forget about France and Germany’s economic threats to London. 

He claimed that instead of the EU, the City of London should be competing with major financial centres in New York and Singapore.

The banking boss explained: “I think Brexit is more than likely on the positive side than on the negative side.

“What the UK needs and London needs, is to make sure that the City is one of the best places, whether it is in terms of regulation or law or language, or talent.

“What London needs to be focused on is not Frankfurt or not Paris, it needs to be focused on New York and Singapore.”

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Mr Staley’s comments come as Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised a “Big Bang 2.0” for the City as he seeks to reposition it on the international stage.

During the Brexit deal talks, Mr Macron had publicly vowed to end the City of London’s financial dominance and lure British bankers to the EU.

However, his strategy largely failed as Mr Staley explained that Brexit gives one of the UK’s most important sectors the chance to define its own agenda.

The financial services sector employs over a million people in the UK – two-thirds of them outside London – and pays a whopping 11 percent of all taxes in the country.

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Mr Staley admitted that some money and jobs have moved from the UK as a result of Brexit, but said the impact has been very modest.

He explained: “Yes, there are some jobs that are going to Europe, that otherwise would have been in the UK, but it’s in the hundreds.

“Barclays employs some 50,000 people in the United Kingdom, roughly 20,000 outside of the UK and 10,000 in the US.

“Some amount of capital has moved but London is still obviously the main centre for Barclays.”

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In his interview with the BBC, Mr Staley also urged against turning the City of London into a Singapore-on-Thames, which some Brexiteers at times called for.

He pushed against widespread deregulation, saying the UK’s robust regulation system was a major strength, not a weakness.

The banking boss said he “wouldn’t burn one piece of regulation”.

Mr Staley added that the City should try to become “a centre of innovation around financing climate issues” rather than embark on a sudden deregulatory programme.

In another Brexit, boost, Mondelez International – which owns the chocolate brand Cadburys – said some production in continental Europe would return to the UK.

Announcing a £15m investment into the UK, the company said from 2022, 125 million more Dairy Milk bars would be manufactured there.

Overall, about £1 trillion in capital and assets and up to 10,000 jobs left the UK industry as firms set up EU subsidiaries.

However, in global financial terms, the BBC’s Business editor Simon Jack branded this an “erosion rather than exodus”.

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