Wales' Financial Services 'At Risk' If We Vote Leave; the UK's Representative on the European Commission Spoke to Chief Reporter Martin Shipton about the Possible Impact of Brexit, Financial Services in Wales, the Single Market and Empty Promises

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 30, 2016 | Go to article overview

Wales' Financial Services 'At Risk' If We Vote Leave; the UK's Representative on the European Commission Spoke to Chief Reporter Martin Shipton about the Possible Impact of Brexit, Financial Services in Wales, the Single Market and Empty Promises


THE UK's member of the European Commission says Wales' burgeoning financial services industry would be likely to suffer a serious setback if there is a vote to Leave in the EU referendum.

Lord Jonathan Hill, the Commissioner for Financial Stability, has been putting together new rules for the financial sector that seek to strike a balance between reasonable regulation and the freedom to invest. During a visit to Cardiff, he made the point that Wales currently has the fastest-growing financial services sector in the UK. And he told us that none of the alternative models for the industry mooted by supporters of the Leave campaign stacked up.

He said when something sounded too good to be true, that's because it really was.

A former Leader of the House of Lords in David Cameron's first term as Prime Minister, Lord Hill said he was "not a lifelong Euro nut".

But he added: "I think the consequences for Wales of a Leave vote would be serious. The single market is governed by a set of rules. In the area of financial services, it's the rules that actually determine market access. It's quite hard to be clear which particular model those who are in favour of leaving the EU would want to adopt in future so far as financial services is concerned because the different models have been changing quite quickly.

"Every single one that I have seen people come up with does not offer what the single market offers. It would not offer this system where you can just do business throughout the EU. "So costs would go up. Negotiating a new arrangement because it's so uncertain would clearly take time - we don't know what the outcome would be."

Lord Hill said everyone in business knows that uncertainty is the enemy of investment: "We're already seeing some signs of that in the UK economy more generally, " he said. "The UK is a huge global centre of financial services.

"We've got businesses coming to the UK from all over the world, partly because we've got this great expertise, and then you get all the services that come and cluster round it. But they also come because it is this route into the market of 500 million people.

"If you talk to investors from the United States or China or Hong Kong, which I do, and you ask them why do they come to the UK, they'll say they come because you've got great skills, the time zone, the English language, the culture is welcoming, there's a skilled workforce. …

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