A British exit from the European Union would gradually sap the world’s financial capital of wealth and power but there would be no stampede of bankers and traders to rival centres, the City of London’s policy chief said.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the 28-member EU and hold a referendum on membership by the end of 2017.
Some investors, chief executives and allies have warned that leaving the bloc would be politically and economically costly for Britain, whose economy is the world’s fifth largest.
Marc Boleat, who is effectively the political leader of the historic financial district’s municipal body, the City of London Corporation, said an exit vote would lead to years of ‘divorce’ negotiations during which London risked losing business.
“Brexit would lead to considerable uncertainty, with a threat if we could not get good exit terms of, over a period of years, the City of London being smaller than it otherwise would have been,” he said.
“The question is not whether London is still a financial centre – I can guarantee it will be in many years’ time. The question is what size is it, are we getting bigger or smaller, are we getting more jobs?
“Over a period of years it would be a smaller centre than it otherwise would have been,” Boleat said of the impact of leaving the European Union.