City suffers from Brexit ice blast but should we care about wealthy bankers?

Vacancies have fallen by 39 per cent. The problem with that is banks and bankers contribute a sizeable portion of the UK's overall tax take that pays for services people rely on 

James Moore
Chief Business Commentator
Tuesday 11 December 2018 13:47
comments
Job vacancies in the City of London have fallen thanks to Brexit
Job vacancies in the City of London have fallen thanks to Brexit

A reduction in wealthy bankers’ job opportunities - vacancies have fallen by 39 per cent according to recruiter Morgan Mckinely - who cares?

That’s understandable, but misguided.

Like it or not, London’s financial sector represents a hugely important part of the UK’s economy. Its institutions and employees also contribute a sizeable chunk of the UK’s overall tax take.

Fewer jobs for bankers, and a decline in activity in London’s financial centre, means lower tax revenues, means less money for the NHS, for schools, and for other services that the Government provides and people rely upon, services that austerity has left creaking and in urgent need of investment.

These numbers provide yet more evidence - as if that were needed - that the UK is engaged in a process of shooting itself in both feet with a pump action shotgun, and then fixing up a gizmo to facilitate shooting up its hands while it’s at it.

The madness that has taken hold is something that is quite staggering to bear witness to in a country people used to regard as generally rather sensible. Didn’t someone once use the phrase “strong and stable”? It surely isn’t that any more. Quite the reverse.

The figures shouldn’t come as a great surprise: In common with other sectors, London’s financial institutions have been calling for clarity they won’t get for some time, and sitting on their hands in the meantime.

They’ve also been setting up European subsidiaries, filling them with people, and preparing for the impact of no deal. All this has contributed to the recent raft of grim economic releases that have been piling up like wrecked cars in a junkyard.

There is some evidence to suggest that, while it won't escape pain, the City is better prepared for, and better able to weather, a chaotic, cliff edge Brexit better than other sectors.

But the fact that its engines will continue to slowly turn, while the rest of the economy shudders, is slim comfort indeed.

I’ve long been of the view that the financial centre makes up too big a part of UK plc, that it is coddled, despite the regular scandals that vent forth from it, and that it has too much influence over policymaking.

I’m far from alone in thinking Britain would do better were its economy to be rebalanced. Greater attention should be paid to nurturing other sectors.

But Brexit is not the way to go about that process. Quite the reverse. It will damage all sectors. It’s an exercise in mass stupidity. This simply serves to underline the point.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments