Until Article 50 is triggered, the terms of Brexit remain more speculation than fact. However, many people are concerned about the effects it’ll have on London’s future as the Hub of Europe, whether Brexit is hard, soft or red, white and blue, and there has been a lot of speculation in the press.
Last October, London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan expressed his worries to business leaders about the future of London if Theresa May’s promised ‘hard Brexit’ took place, saying it would be “economic self-sabotage” because, in his view, the UK would “end up losing access to the single market that helps make our financial services industry a world leader”.
In-depth research undertaken by a leading venture capital investor has pointed to the fact that the technology sector could be hard-hit by Brexit in terms of both the falling pound and the difficulties and expense of getting work visas for overseas workers which would make a career in Britain less attractive to the European workforce. There are worries that, post-Brexit, workers will gravitate to jobs in France and Germany which are the largest tech sectors after the UK. Currently, around 40% of technology start-ups in London have at least one non-native founder, and 43% of workers in the European tech sector are non-native to the country they are employed in, creating a lot of movement within the EU.
Some people in the banking sector remain upbeat and optimistic about the capital’s future as the financial sector of Europe. Speaking at Davos in January, the Chief Executive of Barclays said his company would continue to do most of its business from London. However, The Guardian has reported that dozens of banks, financial institutions and other businesses are looking to relocate to Dublin because Ireland will be the only English-speaking country left in the EU. To back this up, in January CNN reported that the exodus has already begun, with UBS and HSBC making plans to move a combined 2,000 staff from London to other bases around Europe.
There is, however, good news for London. The slump in the pound since the Brexit vote has already attracted more inbound tourists taking advantage of the weaker Sterling. Only a month after the vote, tourism grew 2% year-on-year. In addition, the number of Chinese visitors, in particular, has seen a dramatic rise in the past year, up 81%, though this has also been attributed to changes in the visa system.
So, no-one really knows what will happen after Brexit, but what we can be sure of is that the speculation will continue for many years to come.
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