Wednesday 8 May 2019 8:49 pm

The City powers the UK economy – it must not fall into Labour’s hands

Despite the best efforts of a few valiant voices, the City (and its interests) received a shameful lack of attention during the Brexit debate and has been largely left to fend for itself ever since.

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However, the race to succeed Mark Carney at the Bank of England combined with the prospect of a hard-left Labour government has sparked a renewed focus on the most important component of the British economy.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority and candidate for the Bank of England's top job has become increasingly vocal about the future of financial services and the regulatory regime that will underpin it.

His call for a smarter, more flexible approach post-Brexit was echoed earlier this week by another contender for the Governorship, deputy governor Sir Jon Cunliffe, who also warned against locking the UK into the EU's regulatory regime once the UK leaves the bloc.

The importance of the financial and professional services sector is underlined today by the release of an annual 'state of the City' report by trade body TheCityUK. One of the main points this group is always keen to highlight is just how much of the sector is based outside London. Two thirds of the 2.3m people working in this field are based outside the capital, and across the country a staggering one in 14 workers makes a living in the industry. In 2017/18 the sector generated a mighty £75bn in tax revenue, amounting to £11 in every £100 the exchequer collects.

The full report highlights the breadth and depth of the sector, and complements work done by other groups such as New Financial in demonstrating the importance of the sector to the wider economy in every corner of the country.

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This scope and scale is worth remembering the next time Labour figures attack the City as a mere playground for “the one per cent” – a smear that makes it into every stump speech offered up by the Labour leadership. With politics now at its most unpredictable in living memory, the threat Labour poses to the financial services industry, and by extension the wider UK economy, must be taken extremely seriously.

If this crown fell into Labour's hands, it would rust.