Last weekend we saw the worst of human behaviour, with knife-wielding terrorists striking at random on London Bridge and Borough Market.
We also saw the best in human behaviour, with the emergency services and members of the public acting swiftly to end the attack, and tend to and comfort the injured.
We will remember and honour those who lost their lives, but we canot let this attack change our way of life, or shake our democratic ideals.
Thursday will see the public go to the polls in an election that will show our defiance of those who wish to divide us. After a whirlwind election campaign we will elect the government that will steer the UK through the upcoming tough Brexit negotiations.
While political parties have presented various options for how post-Brexit Britain should look, one thing is clear to me – the next government must commit to protecting the millions of jobs across this country in financial and related professional services. These industries employ more than 2.2m people in highly skilled jobs, and contributed more than £71bn in taxes to the national purse in 2015 – more than any other industry.
More than two thirds of these who work in financial and related professional services are outside of London, with tens-of-thousands of high quality jobs in centres like Bristol, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Keeping all our financial centres strong will be crucial in ensuring financial inclusion and prosperity across the entire country.
Financial services is undisputedly an area where the United Kingdom leads the world, generating a monumental trade surplus of more than $110bn in 2015 – a large amount of which was with the European Union. To put this trade surplus in context, this is more than the combined volumes of the next four financial services exporting countries: The United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Singapore.
As Europe’s only global-scale financial centre, it is vital that we come to a deal with the EU based in mutual regulatory recognition and two-way market access, as well as maintaining the UK as a country open to the best and brightest from around the world.
As the world’s leading financial centre, London serves as a gateway to Europe for global investors and a gateway to the world for European businesses looking to expand and invest overseas. Maintaining its function is good for the UK and good for Europe.
When UK and European negotiators sit around the negotiating table on 19 June, there will be a number of items for discussion. London’s position as a European asset, facilitating the development of linked capital markets across the world, and in the EU, should form the basis of agreement around which mutually-beneficial decisions can be made.
I am a firm believer that the UK can and will maintain close links with our European business partners, but also expand our presence in key growth markets across Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.
I hope this ambition for global trade and the spread of European products and services across the world is shared by European leaders, as London is the natural hub for international commerce.
This weekend’s attack brings into sharper focus the challenges ahead, but we must continue to be an open business friendly society, so no matter the outcome of Thursday’s election we at the City of London Corporation look forward to working with the next government to promote and grow the UK’s most important sector, one that has brought prosperity and economic stability to millions of people across this country.