AFTER over 30 years of working for world-leading financial institutions, I know that most people working in the City think of the Tories as both better for them personally through low income taxes, and more pro-business generally.
But the facts have changed. Today, if you work in the City and vote Conservative, let alone Ukip, you are casting a vote that could potentially destroy the very City which is your living. If Britain leaves the EU, the successful business model of the City will collapse. The City today owes its position to being inside the single market, able to do business across the EU as a home market, and be the global leader in trading the euro and euro-denominated securities.
David Cameron started out as leader of his party telling his members to “stop banging on about Europe”. But he has been forced by his Europhobe backbenchers and members to tack right and promise a referendum in 2017, which at best causes uncertainty and, at worst, could end in disaster.
Cameron is too scared to put the facts to the country: Britain cannot dictate to the rest of Europe the terms of our membership. The 27 other countries of the EU will not all agree to make changes to EU treaties to give Britain all the benefits of membership but exempt it from any obligations.
The idea that the City could survive outside the EU as a kind of gigantic Jersey or Cayman Islands is fantasy. For a start, Jersey derives much of its business as a feeder to the City within the EU. And the City could not function without being the place where Germans, French, Italians, Poles and our other European friends can move to work, play and pay taxes without having to apply for a visa. These are all the reasons why Ed Miliband has wisely ensured that, unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer an automatic referendum in the next parliament. Labour stands for stability and certainty where others stand for indecision.
We cannot afford to risk our membership of the EU to indulge Europhobes. Cameron and the chancellor have already damaged Britain’s relations with the EU, and deprived us of influence by withdrawing the Tories from the moderate centre-right group in the European Parliament – a group which includes Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU.
So when you cast your vote in the European elections tomorrow and the general election next year, consider this: if you value your job in the City and want to see the City continue prosper as Europe’s premier financial centre, there is now only one party left you can vote for to assure the City’s future: the Labour Party.
Tom Brown is a committee member of Labour in the City, and a former managing director at NordLB and Deutsche Bank.