The world's four largest financial centres share a common language, a common law tradition and a common commitment to liberal economics.
Whatever happens today, that won’t change. London, along with New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, will continue to be a leading global financial centre.
Of course, there are challenges to Britain’s future prosperity however we vote. There are global economic forces we need to deal with – from a slowing China to worries in recent American trends. I’ve described these challenges as bumps in the road ahead. But if we leave the European Union we’re in a stronger position to deal with any challenges. We’ll be in the driving seat when it comes to meeting those challenges.
If we vote to Remain then we’re held hostage in the back while others take us in a direction that may suit them but which won’t be designed with our interests in mind.
We know the EU’s institutions and leadership are hostile to liberal economics. They favour established insiders against entrepreneurial newcomers, rent-seeking corporatists over dynamic innovators, lobbyists and back-scratchers over inventors and job-creators. The EU works very well for those vested interests with the money to spend on lobbying for new regulation which creates barriers to entry but it is hopeless at encouraging the enterprises of the future. There is no EU equivalent of Facebook or Netflix, Uber or Amazon.
And when it comes to financial services, the EU strangles innovation without actually protecting customers, with policies such as the Financial Transaction Tax. And that’s not all. In the Five Presidents' Report the path is laid out for the EU to harmonise property law, solvency law and contract law, eroding some of the unique advantages that make the City such a world-beater.
Only 12 per cent of our pensions and insurance exports go to Europe, but we will have to accept every dot and comma of Brussels rules for that world-beating industry.
If we vote to Leave, we can design the regulations that make the most of London’s advantages.
And we can safeguard our seat on key global bodies that now set half the rules governing financial services like the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Board.
The scare stories of the EU trying to cut London off are not plausible. It would be an act of self-harm to restrict their companies’ access to the place where four fifths of European capital market business is done.
As for the warning that jobs will disappear to Frankfurt if we do not toe the Brussels line – we heard the same over the ERM and the euro, when as we all know escaping the clutches of the single currency freed London to flourish.
If Britain votes to leave the EU and take back control today, London can soar even higher and take its place where it belongs – leading the world.
Today, our country will make a momentous decision: whether to remain in the European Union, or quit.
It’s not like a general election; we can’t change our mind in five years’ time. This decision is final, and will profoundly affect our country for many years to come.
For me, the question is: where is Britain stronger, safer and better off? And the answer is clear: within a reformed EU.
We’re stronger because we have a seat at our continent’s top table – we’re able to get things done in the world, with the clout of 27 other countries behind us. We’re safer because we can work with our allies – those who share our values of democracy, freedom and tolerance – to tackle the threats we face. But above all, we’re better off. That’s thanks to our access to the Single Market – 500m people with whom we can trade without tariffs or barriers.
That isn’t just vital to industries like automotives and pharmaceuticals, food and farming. It’s crucial to services – like tech, architecture, advertising, IT – which make up 80 per cent of our economy. The biggest exporter within that is, of course, the financial services sector, which employs over a million people – 285,000 of which are linked to EU exports.
Those who want to leave can’t say what life would look like on the outside. What new barriers would businesses face? How long would a new relationship with Europe take to negotiate?
What Leave campaigners do admit is that we would be out of the Single Market. And whatever deal we ended up with, it would never be as good as the deal we already have.
It’s a leap in the dark – and we shouldn’t risk it. If we were outside the Single Market, a lot of financial services jobs would have to move to another country to remain inside the EU and benefit from the arrangements that let you trade across all 27 countries. The head of the Stock Exchange has talked of losing 100,000 jobs in the City alone.
Nine out of 10 economists say that leaving would damage Britain. The IMF and the Bank of England predict a recession in the short term. Then there’s the uncertainty in the medium term, as we try to thrash out a new deal with Europe. Longer term, we’d be poorer, with less investment, less trade and less growth. In fact, we’ve already had a taste of that, with market volatility over recent days.
On polling day, I say: if you’re in any doubt, look around. From the Square Mile to Silicon Roundabout, London is an outward-looking, dynamic capital city, that takes full advantage of EU membership.
Our businesses’ success, families’ security and young people’s opportunities all rest on this question.
So don’t roll the dice. Choose the certainty of strength, safety and prosperity – and vote to remain.