I was invited to speak to the British Bankers’ Association this morning on the future of the EU, along with the distinguished journalist Simon Nixon of the Wall Street Journal. He and I actually agreed on many of the issues and concerns raised: that there is no great danger of the Eurozone ‘caucussing’ on other issues within the EU, that the bulk of what the EU does is at the level of the whole Union, and that there is no reason for Britain to be isolated other than through self-inflicted wounds. In general, when adopting financial sector legislation, other EU countries bend over backwards to ensure that the UK government is on board with any deal reached.
I was at pains to point out that the case of Britain being outvoted among EU ministers on setting limits to bankers’ bonuses was not so much a case of a division between Britain and the rest, but rather of a division between the financial sector (in all countries) and public opinion. Indeed, most British MEPs had voted in favour of the limit!
The banking sector doesn’t always like Europe-wide rules that seek to curb their excesses. But in this discussion and in subsequent meetings in the City, I learned that they are nonetheless overwhelmingly of the view that leaving the EU would be a disaster for the British economy in general and the financial sector in particular. Pity they don’t shout it louder.