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‘We’re heading for crisis if bank staff quit Canary Wharf over hard Brexit’ London MEPs warn

PUBLISHED: 15:34 01 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:42 01 August 2017

The EU Parliament in Strasbourg. Picture: Mike Brooke

The EU Parliament in Strasbourg. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

London members of the European Parliament are calling for urgent UK government action to prevent a looming financial industries crisis in the wake of thousands of jobs being lost at Canary Wharf over Brexit.

Still there... the Union flag alongside the other 27 flags of Europe. Picture: Mike BrookeStill there... the Union flag alongside the other 27 flags of Europe. Picture: Mike Brooke

Other EU member-states are competing to bid to provide new homes for two agencies being relocated out of east London when Britain quits the union.

The European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency which employ 1,000 staff between them at Canary Wharf are the first ‘spoils’ of Brexit by the 27 remaining countries.

The HSBC bank has already confirmed plans to move 1,000 jobs to Paris in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit.

The East London Advertiser which covers Canary Wharf has been to Strasbourg seeking the views of our MEPs, both Tory and Labour, on the effects of quitting Europe.

MEP Dr Charles Tunnock on job losses when the banks quit London. Picture: Mike BrookeMEP Dr Charles Tunnock on job losses when the banks quit London. Picture: Mike Brooke

“I am calling for a change of heart and a softer exit from Europe,” Conservative Dr Charles Tannock told the paper.

“These sunlit economic uplands aren’t going to be there for Britain as the economy starts to contract if we persist on the ‘hard’ Brexit trajectory.

“There will be a heavy price to pay in jobs and damage to London’s economy.”

The competition on who gets the two agencies when they leave Canary Wharf and the business that comes with them is being decided in November. The agencies attract 40,000 hotel stays a year for visitors which had boosted east London’s hospitality industry.

MEP Seb Dance... 'Devastating effect on jobs' without free movement of people. Picture: Mike BrookeMEP Seb Dance... 'Devastating effect on jobs' without free movement of people. Picture: Mike Brooke

Moving out will have “a devastating effect” on hotel and catering jobs if we stop free movement of people, according to Labour London MEP Seb Dance.

“It will increase unemployment and won’t create space for jobs,” he insists.

“We’ll have a demographic crisis with our population getting older and living longer without an influx of working-age people.”

He wants the government “to be honest” about the implications of quitting the EU.

European Parliament that Britain is about to quit. Picture: Mike BrookeEuropean Parliament that Britain is about to quit. Picture: Mike Brooke

“Leaving the single market and the customs union weren’t in the referendum,” he points out. “There is certainly no mandate for that.”

HSBC has confirmed plans to move 1,000 bank jobs to Paris in the event of a hard Brexit. Five other major banks have already begun relocating hundreds of staff over fears of a staggered deal on leaving the EU, which have to be in place by September next year on a tight timetable if they need to leave the UK.

London voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, with 68 per cent in Tower Hamlets which includes Canary Wharf, but all that will be lost after 2019 as Britain departs.

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