Labour is seeking an audience with banking giant Morgan Stanley less than a fortnight after leader Jeremy Corbyn warned that his party was a “threat” to the investment bank.
Shadow City minister Jonathan Reynolds is meeting one of Morgan Stanley’s most senior figures in the next few weeks in what he admitted would be a “frank” discussion – but one which he insisted would not be “difficult at all”.
“When you are a frontbencher you have to get out there and talk to stakeholders. There will always be frank dialogue if you’re doing it well, but I am not anticipating it will be difficult at all,” he said, adding: “I’m looking forward it.”
Reynolds, who is thought of as the more moderate member of John McDonnell's shadow Treasury team, said there had been more interest in meeting his party from the banking sector since the election, which left Theresa May without a majority.
Reynolds recently met representatives from Santander and the shadow chancellor is understood to have met executives from RBS in October. McDonnell this week told Bloomberg he would welcome Goldman Sachs’ head of overseas Richard Gnodde for tea and biscuits, after being approached by the bank.
Reynolds told City A.M.: “This is part of being a frontbencher. It’s useful to be informed and it helps with policy development to have access with people who have an understanding of what we should be thinking about, of what issues we should consider.”
But just under a fortnight ago Corbyn tweeted a video of himself in which he launched a scathing broadside against the banking sector, accompanied with the statement: “When bankers like Morgan Stanley say we’re a threat, they’re right. The next Labour government is a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few.”
When bankers like Morgan Stanley say we’re a threat, they’re right.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 30, 2017
The next Labour Government is a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few. pic.twitter.com/v1ujMkngdv
The video has been viewed almost 900,000 times.
It followed McDonnell’s admission during its party conference that his team had been “war game” scenario planning for a run on the pound in the event of a Labour government, saying he was preparing to “answer the question about what happens when, or if, they come for us”.
When asked who “they” were, Corbyn said “I think they’re people who John probably doesn’t like”.
But Reynolds told City A.M. the party had received good feedback from business after its conference. “We are interested in hearing the voice of business,” he said.
The Morgan Stanley meeting is just one of many that Labour is embarking on in the new year as the party seeks “wider engagement” with the City and beyond. Reynolds is planning trips to financial services firms in Bristol, Edinburgh and Birmingham in the new year.
A City of London Corporation spokesman said the Guildhall team was hoping to finally welcome the shadow business and Treasury teams, after Labour’s request during the summer, early in 2018.