London backed to retain world-beating status as city for opportunity after Brexit

William Turvill
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London's Economic Boom Continues
The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June (Source: Getty)

London has retained its status as the world’s greatest city for opportunity, and will hold on to the top spot if it seizes the chances presented by Brexit, according to an in-depth study published this morning.

For the second year running, London beat the likes of New York, Beijing, Singapore and Tokyo, to top a global ranking compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The list aims to identify the world's leading centre for business, commerce and culture.

The report identified economic clout, reputation as a city gateway, ease of doing business, innovation and entertainment as reasons for London taking top spot.

The index is based partly on data from before the UK’s Brexit vote. But PwC, the London mayor Sadiq Khan, and business groups have backed London to make the most of the situation.

Read more: Brexit is a chance for London to renew itself again as a great global city

“Despite the recent vote to leave the European Union, there is no doubt that this will continue to be the best place in the world to do business,” said Khan, commenting on the report.

PwC partner David Snell said the EU vote has created a “major opportunity” for the financial services sector in the capital to “work with regulators, investors and clients in order to shape a new rulebook to fit for the new climate”.

“Brexit will bring challenges, but it’s important we remain positive,” he added.

If Brexit has effects on London, they will play out in a process over time in areas like talent mobility, trade and regulation. But it is worth remembering that London is resilient, agile and great at adapting. London is open for business and we must seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

Credit Suisse yesterday became the latest banking giant to reverse predictions of a post-referendum recession. Earlier in the week Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan said that they are expecting the economy to grow healthily during the second half of the year.

The report's findings were welcomed by Institute of Economic Affairs director general Mark Littlewood. He told City A.M. there are challenges ahead for London, particularly in financial services, but also opportunities. “And if we seize those, I think we won’t only be number one next year, we’ll be number one by an increasing margin,” Littlewood said.

He called for the response to Brexit to be “radical devolution across the UK, including to London”, having previously floated the idea of London-only visas, enabling different migration rules in the capital.

Sean McKee, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s director of policy and public affairs, also told City A.M. that the capital would benefit from more devolution to ensure “a greater proportion of taxes generated in London are retained here along with a range of new policy competencies ceded to City Hall”.

Read more: Lloyd's of London boss says Brexit vote is a threat to UK insurance market

He added: “The future seems testing, with population surge and go-it-alone Brexit implications, however businesses remain ready to liaise with politicians to forge a practical dialogue that can harness the talent, experience and energy across our capital.”

Will Higham, director of campaigns at London First, told City A.M.:

We have the strongest possible starting point ahead of leaving the EU. We can keep it, if the government has a laser-like focus on what global firms needs to settle and grow in the UK: highly-skilled talent, infrastructure and openness to trade and commerce. For example, no single decision could make that clearer right now than more runway capacity in the south east.

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