More Brexit bluster

Tuesday 29th August 2017

Just chewing over some of the most recent Brexittery with the venerable City commentator David Buik on my business show on JazzFM this morning.

We noted with bemusement the story about Theresa May’s forthcoming visit to Japan – where the FT, which is owned by Japan’s Nikkei, reports that the the UK can forget about any trade deals in the near future, because the world’s third biggest economy first wants to do one with the EU. Which will take years. Buik noted that ‘if Mrs May was unaware of Japan’s views then this is a case of gross diplomatic discourtesy. If she did know, she shouldn’t be going.’ And if she is aware of it, it merely decreases her authority.

Then there’s the next chapter in the supposed exit of the strivers from the canyons of capitalism in the City and Canary Wharf, to downtown Frankfurt. Or perhaps Paris. Frankfurt apparently thinks it will gain 10,000 banking sector jobs by 2021. Add the requisite service sector jobs – restaurants, hotels, healthcare and so on –  and the good burghers of the  Germany’s fifth largest city are pushing the tale that in total an additional 34,000 would come to the city and another 88,000 across the region.

Well, you have to admit this is great PR, especially as its rival Paris has been quoting a similar windfall. But I don’t buy it. There’s no doubt that the German work ethic is up there with the best, but as Buik says ‘to believe that Frankfurt will create infrastructure, reputation and achieve the experience to challenge London as an international finance centre is surely fanciful.’

‘Infrastructure’ isn’t just about market mechanisms and back offices and all that dull stuff. It’s schools and housing and hops, and all the other things that the City emigres will demand as their price for moving.

And perhaps the bottom line of all this business – a quarter of workers in the City are in their twenties – would they, upon whom a lot of this will depend, rather party in Frankfurt or London?


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