Brexit: City workers would vote to stay in the EU despite Brussels hostility to financial services

Guy Bentley
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City executives give reluctant support to EU (Source: Getty)

The vast majority of finance executives working in the City of London would vote to stay in the EU despite believing Brussels is actively hostile toward the financial services industry.

The Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI) found that 73 per cent of City executives and economists in the City's financial industry would either "definitely" or probably vote to stick with the EU.

But support for the EU was far from enthusiastic, with 42 per cent saying Brussels' European Commission was "hostile" to the City. Just 16 per cent thought the EU was supportive of the sector. A small minority of 12 per cent said they supported Brexit.

According to the research, support for the EU is based more on fear of the unknown than support for the EU institutions. "The City is scared of the implications of an out vote and about its vulnerability if the UK chooses to go it alone," said Andrew Hilton, director of the CSFI.

“That said, support for the EU is based on resignation rather than enthusiasm. Yes, the City wants to remain in the EU, but it doesn’t like Brussels, it fears European regulation and it is worried about the political drift of the EU," he added.

There was something of a generational divide among the City executives with the older members of the group being more sceptical of the European project. Four fifths of the 18-30 year olds would vote to remain in the EU but the figure drops to two-thirds for those over 60.

Much has been made of businesses uncertainty surrounding Britain's position in Europe but 80 per cent of those in the CSFI survey said they expected Britain to remain in the EU in the near future.

The EU and Britain have been at loggerheads over the regulation of financial services and remuneration in the sector. George Osborne fought the EU's proposal for a cap on bankers' bonuses. But the chancellor was unsuccessful and bonuses are now capped at twice annual salaries.

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