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The arch remainers were wrong. The City is still on top in Europe

Shares closed down in the City on Friday (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Shares closed down in the City on Friday (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

According to arch remainers, one of the many things that would go south if we left the EU was our financial services sector.

This complaint came most often from people who hate the City and all it stands for in the first place, so never really rang true.

There was something very funny about the Guardian fretting that there might be fewer bankers in London, since fewer bankers was surely to its taste in general.

Nearly eight years on from the referendum vote, it is indeed hard to see how Brexit has been good for the Square Mile. It is also far from obvious that it has suffered much damage — London’s status as a financial capital is under attack, but from the Far and Middle East, not from Frankfurt — a toy town, best known for bicycles and book fairs.

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A survey today from EY finds that the UK has extended its lead as Europe’s main destination for investment in financial services.

The UK attracted 108 financial services projects last year, up from 76 in 2022 and well ahead of European rivals. France, in second place, secured just 39 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in 2023.

Anna Anthony, EY UK financial services managing partner, said: “The UK didn’t just maintain its lead as the most attractive European financial services market last year, it extended it significantly.”

There are challenges of course. The flotation market doesn’t really function at the moment. The stock market, despite recent rallies, remains undervalued compared with New York.

But the stock market is only one bit, albeit a high profile part, of the City. The insurance market remains rock solid. The bond market even survived Liz Truss. As a tech hub, London is imperfect, but it beats Paris, Frankfurt and the rest by a country mile.

The City has a huge amount going for it. We should remember that more often than we do.