Richard North, 04/09/2013  

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All of a sudden, the Evening Standard is running a FUD story, telling us that the bosses of investment bank Goldman Sachs are warning that European banks will relocate onto the Continent from London "in very short order" if Britain exits the European Union.

Michael Sherwood and Richard Gnodde, the co-chief executives of Goldman Sachs International, say they would have to make plans to relocate swathes of staff from the capital so they could maintain their access to the European economy.

This, of course, is from a bank that maintains a strong presence in Switzerland, which just happens to be outside the European Union. It even went so far as to open up a Geneva branch in the spring of 2001, in addition to its Zurich head office, to service clients from Latin America, the Middle East and Southern Europe – which just happens to include EU member states.

In other words, this is corporate BS, but the proximate cause is that the Standard is running a major debate on the motion, "The City in Europe: Will it prosper if Britain leaves the EU? ", and it wants to attract publicity for this FUD-fest.

The members of the panel are: Business Secretary Vince Cable, jail bird Vicky Pryce, captain of industry Sir Martin Sorrell, entrepreneur Luke Johnson, Tory backbencher and author Jesse Norman and German-born Labour MP Gisela Stuart. The debate is being held in partnership with the City of London and the Centre for London and is sponsored by GVA, will be chaired by the BBC's Jon Sopel with an introduction from the Lord Mayor of London.

Not to be left out, though, Reuters has joined in the fun (extract, top), recruiting Roger Gifford, the Lord Mayor of London, to spread the message of fear.

"There is a risk that those foreign exchange desks would move, and that might apply as much to JP Morgan or Citigroup as it does to Deutsche, and equally for all the expertise that is there for project finance, structured finance, commodity dealing and the legal side which is so strong here", says Roger Gifford.

"If the UK was not in the European Union and there was some rift with Germany I cannot see why the German authorities would not be suggesting to the management of Deutsche Bank that they should have their primary operations particularly for foreign exchange back in Germany rather than London", he adds.

Then we see the propaganda line emerge. Gifford, who heads up the British operations of Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, says it was mistaken to believe Britain could operate alone outside the single market. In a patronising comment, he tells us, "There is a different reality today - let's not be silly", adding that at least 90 percent of the major financial institutions in London wanted Britain to stay inside the EU.

But here we go again. Despite "Brexit", it is quite possible to negotiate a settlement that keeps Britain in the Single Market, for the time being – unless the ECA loons get their way. So, the FUD only works if you go for the nuclear option and pretend that there is no better way of organising an exit.

Its funny really, how the extreme "outers" with their ECA repeal meme seem to be working in concert with the europhile tendency, doing everything they can do maximise the FUD quotient. But all it takes is Art 50 and the London FUD comes falling down. But don't tell Gerald Batten. He gets terribly miffed.


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