We must safeguard the internationalist outlook that makes the capital thrive

Andrew Parmley
Passengers jostle to enter the Undergrou
We are an international city for business, welcoming talented individuals from across the world (Source: Getty)

At this time of year, after well-deserved summer breaks for many, it feels like the City is getting back into the swing of things.

I managed to squeeze in a few days off myself by heading to the Edinburgh Festival, but I am now gearing up for a busy last few months in office.

Over the course of September and October, I will be visiting the high growth African countries of Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia to promote the City’s international offer to developing nations, and will be joined by a strong City delegation.

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Following this, I will be departing for a short policy visit to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to discuss how the City of London benefits all of the British Isles.

What I hear on these visits is not only how highly respected and valued the City is as a source of raising capital, a trading hub and global financial services asset, but also how well known we are.

Anecdotally, I have spoken to so many international business leaders in the financial services sector over the past year that have some sort of connection to the City – either having been here to do business, done business indirectly with firms in the City, or seen their colleagues work here. It goes to show what an international city for business we are, welcoming talented individuals from across the world to work and live here.

Research that the City of London Corporation produced last week backed up this very point. Across the UK we find that 92 per cent of jobs were held by British workers, five per cent by EU workers, and three per cent by non-EU workers.

However, London offers a very different picture. In fact, 76 per cent of London workers are British, 15 per cent from the EU, and nine per cent from other international markets.

When looking exclusively at financial services and insurance jobs we found something similar, where outside of London 95 per cent of jobs were held by British workers, but inside the M25 we see the figure stand at 78 per cent. We see similar picture for sectors like reinsurance, pension funding, and activities auxiliary to these sectors.

Of course, this shows that immigration has been important, and we must stay open to the world. But we must not forget that more than two-thirds of financial and professional services sector jobs are found outside London, and that our city succeeds when the regions succeed as well. This was the case I made to business leaders when I visited Blackpool, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield just before the summer.

London, and indeed the financial and professional services sector, has a very international workforce. For that reason we have been vocal in calling for clarity on the residency rights of EU workers in the UK post-Brexit, and making sure the business voice is heard when discussing immigration policies. Policies which substantially reduce access to international talent from across the world will have a significant negative effect on the both sector and on London’s economy.

It is for that reason we must continue to press the case for London maintaining its international outlook in the coming months as Brexit negotiations continue.

Read more: The City’s future depends on staying in the Single Market

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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