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Barclays and Google 'won't desert the UK after EU exit'

By Jon Vale

Business and banking leaders have offered further commitments to the UK post-Brexit after growth in companies fell to a four-year low.

Google executive Matt Brittin and Barclays chairman John McFarlane praised the country's expertise in technology and financial services, saying this gave businesses a great reason to stay here.

The intervention came as just 39% of UK firms - the lowest figure since 2012 -surveyed by the Chartered Management Institute said they experienced growth following June's referendum.

Of the 1,118 business managers questioned, 65% were pessimistic about the country's economic prospects over the next 12 to 18 months.

Some 49% expect Brexit to have a negative impact on growth over the next three to five years.

Around 35% of bosses polled said they also "lack confidence in current leadership and management's ability to capitalise on post-Brexit opportunities".

However, Mr Brittin, who heads up Google's business and operations in Europe, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that the software company was looking to focus on "big trends" amid the ongoing uncertainty, such as getting more people access to the internet.

"The UK is starting with a lead in this area (and is a) world leader in e-commerce," he added. "So for us, there's great talent here in the UK.

"We announced an intention to create 3,000 more jobs in a big new investment in our facilities here.

"That's only because the UK is so good at the internet that we can support companies here in that growth agenda."

Mr McFarlane said it would make sense for the both the EU and the UK to keep a number of City of London services in their current location.

He added: "The City of London is here because of its competitive advantage and therefore that is the reason why people are here."

He added that Barclays was increasingly focusing on the UK and US markets.

In the Chartered Management Institute survey, three-quarters of those polled said skill investment would be even more important after the UK left the EU.

However, 20% claimed they did not receive the training and development needed to "perform their job effectively" this year.

Despite the gloom, only 25% were pessimistic about prospects for their businesses, in line with levels recorded by the Chartered Management Institute over the past year.

Some 57% were positive about their business's performance in the year ahead.

Belfast Telegraph

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