Tuesday 28 June 2016 10:07 pm

SNP meets City lobbyist as Edinburgh seeks London’s financial crown

Mark Sands is City A.M's political reporter.

Mark Sands is City A.M's political reporter.

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One of the City's top lobbyists is in talks with the SNP on making Edinburgh a financial services powerhouse after Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged to secure access to the European single market.

Cicero Group executive chairman Iain Anderson, whose clients include City heavyweights BlackRock, Rio Tinto and Barclays, met SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie yesterday to discuss Edinburgh's ambitions to topple London's financial services dominance.

Anderson told City A.M. his firm would be willing to support the party in developing plans to access Europe as the single market becomes a key battleground in Brexit negotiations.

“I'm engaging with the SNP directly because in the political vacuum we now have in Westminster, financial services firms need to know whether or not there are options, and if one of those options is the single market in Edinburgh then that has to be treated seriously,” Anderson said.

“And as they develop their thinking on accessing the single market we are very happy to contribute.”

Read More: Bye London hello Edinburgh? Finance won't stay if we exit the Single Market

It is believed proposals have garnered some support among Scottish grandees in the City.

One City chief executive told City A.M. they would be “very interested” in relocating if Scotland was able to secure single market status.

It comes as Sturgeon flies to Brussels to stress the party's commitment to retaining EU membership.

Sturgeon will meet European Parliament president Martin Schulz tomorrow to set out Scotland's position in the wake of the referendum.

She was also seeking to lobby the European Commission, but commission president Donald Tusk deemed a meeting “not appropriate”.

Sturgeon has this week met the President and taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland, while Scottish cabinet members have directly engaged the ambassadors of Slovakia, Germany and France to stress Scotland's desire to retain single market access.

Read More: Second independence vote "last thing Scotland needs" says Downing St

Speaking in Holyrood today, Sturgeon said: “Our ability to trade with EU countries continues unaffected by the result of the referendum until the UK concludes any negotiations, and it is my intention that we will secure continued access to the single market for Scotland.”

Hosie said: “For businesses, families and communities it is totally unacceptable that we should lose the benefits the EU brings to our economy, and that clearly – above all – means access to the single market,” he added.

“As the First Minister has made clear we will pursue every possible avenue to maintain Scotland's position in the EU.”

Anderson cautioned, however: “This is all about ensuring that City firms have access to the single market. The question of independence is up to the SNP.”