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Square Mile boss warns of City exodus after Brexit

Published 16/06/2016

City of London Corporation chairman Mark Boleat said access to the European single market is critical if the UK wants to ensure businesses do not desert the Square Mile
City of London Corporation chairman Mark Boleat said access to the European single market is critical if the UK wants to ensure businesses do not desert the Square Mile

The chairman of the City of London Corporation has taken aim at leading business figures in the Brexit camp and warned that firms could flee the Square Mile if Britain leaves the EU.

Referring to City bosses who are campaigning for Brexit, Mark Boleat told the Press Association: "Not one of them runs a business that I'm aware of. Most of the people I'm debating with are not running a business, Howard Flight is a non-executive director, but he's speaking personally, Daniel Hodson similarly.

"Gerard Lyons has got no position. David Buik is David Buik. Robert Hiscox was a great insurance man in his time, but he has no position. As for JCB, the view is that JCBs would be critically affected if Britain leaves."

Lord Flight is a non-executive director at Metro Bank, Daniel Hodson is former d eputy chief executive at Nationwide and Robert Hiscox is honorary president of Hiscox insurance. David Buik is a market commentator at Panmure Gordon.

The Corporation, which governs the Square Mile, has repeatedly warned of the detrimental impact Brexit would have on the financial services sector, saying it would be the "hardest hit".

Mr Boleat also said that access to the single market, even if the vote is to leave, is critical if the country wants to ensure businesses do not desert the Square Mile.

"Much of what we do is trying to get business into the City; over the next year it might be trying to stop business leaving. But that can't be by saying 'Please don't go, we're nice people', you can't con them. Access to the single market is a key point.

"The EU has contributed massively to jobs and prosperity, mainly through access to the single market, access to talent, the free movement of labour. London has captured the international financial service market," he said.

Mr Boleat added that City opinion is "80% or 90%" for remaining the EU, and urged campaigners to step up as the June 23 vote nears.

"Clearly it's not gone according to plan, but it was always going to be a tough ask when the people on the other side are not an alternative government. There's no question the chances of leaving are substantially higher than 10 days ago.

"I'm not involved in the Remain campaign, but they clearly need to have some people who can connect with voters."

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