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Brexit risk to Belfast finance services staff, warns City Minister

By Margaret Canning

Published 12/05/2016

The UK's City Minister, Harriett Baldwin, will today warn that a vote for Brexit could jeopardise thousands of jobs in financial services in Belfast.

Ms Baldwin is expected to argue that it's not just the City in London that would potentially lose out if the UK votes to leave the EU in June.

Ms Baldwin - the Economic Secretary to the Treasury - said staying in the EU was crucial to the financial sector, which employs around 21,000 people in Northern Ireland and supports another 15,000 in other professional services.

She said that the UK's membership of the EU had allowed Belfast to become a "major financial hub".

Among the finance-linked companies operating here are Citi, AllState and Liberty Mutual - all US institutions - while home-grown financial software firm First Derivatives in Newry now employs 800 people.

The Minister will today visit locations including the cyber-security specialists at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) - which have benefited from EU funding.

And she will also speak at a UKTI event championing Belfast's status as a financial hub.

The Minister said: "This country faces a fundamental choice - whether to remain a member of a reformed EU, or to travel an uncertain path. A vote to stay will protect jobs in Northern Ireland, promote economic growth and ensure that Belfast remains a growing global financial centre.

"A vote to leave would significantly weaken the UK's financial services industry, with consequences for Northern Ireland's status as a financial hub.

"The financial services industry in Northern Ireland is going from strength to strength and is a great success story... let's not put all of this at risk on June 23."

She said membership of the EU gave access to a single market of more than 500 million customers.

That single market enabled the UK financial sector to export over £20bn in financial services - around 33% of total financial and insurance and pensions services exports.

According to the Treasury, 285,000 jobs across the UK are linked to financial services exports to the EU.

And the Treasury said that "leaving the EU would put tens of thousands of these jobs at risk".

Belfast Telegraph

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