Business secretary backs City as a "huge national asset", and hopes there won't be fewer bankers as a result of Brexit

 
Hayley Kirton
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Greg Clark also hopes bank bosses will not need to move staff out of London (Source: Getty)

The business secretary has today given his backing to the City of London, calling the financial sector a "huge national asset".

His comments come just days after bosses from UBS and HSBC warned they could move thousands of jobs overseas because of the Brexit vote and, in particular, the risk they might lose valuable access rights to the Single Market as a result.

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme today, Greg Clark said the government was "totally committed" to maintaining the City's status, adding: "It's a huge national asset which is not just vital in terms of what it contributes to the economy in terms of jobs, taxes, but it also gives rise to a lot of employment, a lot of success, in adjacent areas."

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When questioned on whether he was worried about bank's threats to move staff, Clark said: "I hope they won't need to do that...I think one of the most important strengths of the financial sector in this country is that it is good for the whole of Europe."

Clark was also quizzed over just what the government had told Nissan about the UK's future relationship with the EU.

The car manufacturing giant surprised many last October when it announced it would be building two new car models, its Qashqai SUV and the X-Trail SUV, at its plant in Sunderland, doing a U-turn on previous warnings it would start to shift operations out of the UK if favourable tariff deals could not be pinned down post-Brexit.

Read more: Why SMEs are so optimistic in the face of Brexit

Clark refused to say much on any deal which may have been done, instead noting he was keen to establish the UK as the "go to place" for research on batteries and battery storage, which would no doubt benefit car manufacturers who plan on adding electric vehicles to their offering.

Today is a big day for the government's relationship with the business world, with Prime Minister Theresa May launching a highly-anticipated green paper on industrial strategy.

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