Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned “whingeing” City bankers that the coalition is determined to reduce their hold over the economy.
Mr Cable said the caricature of the Square Mile as a “source of systemic instability, unfettered greed and industrial scale tax dodging” was true. But he blamed a small number of “rogue institutions” and a “sub-caste of financiers” for the problems.
David Cameron highlighted the need to defend the financial sector when he rejected a new European treaty to tackle the sovereign debt crisis earlier this month.
However, writing in The Guardian, Mr Cable insisted many of the new regulations proposed by Brussels were necessary.
If there had been “a calm, unpoliticised environment” disagreements could have been resolved through qualified majority voting, he added. Mr Cable described financial regulation as a “sideshow” compared with the need to avoid a catastrophic outcome to the eurozone crisis.
“In the UK we need to put the whingeing of the City to one side and concentrate on delivering our core narrative, to achieve growth by rebalancing the UK economy,” he wrote.
“Sectorally towards advanced manufacturing, creative industries, higher education and professional services, and therefore with less reliance on banking; from London to provincial Britain.
“The bankers don’t speak for Britain and the coalition will not put their interests above the rest of the country.”
The comments came as ratings agency Moody’s cautioned that UK PLC faced “formidable and rising challenges”.
Noting that the country’s prized AAA rating depended on keeping the deficit reduction plan on track, it added: “Any additional weakening in the macroeconomic outlook or a need to support the banking system could temporarily set back the government’s fiscal consolidation.”