City backs Boris - but not his Brexit deal

A majority of financial services chiefs in the City of London are supporting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's re-election bid in the December 12 general election - but not his Brexit deal, according to a new poll.

The Financial News (FN) conducted a poll among 112 executives in the Square Mile and, while 56 per cent backed the Conservative Party in next month's poll, only 38 per cent believed his Brexit deal would be good for the City while 39 per cent thought it would have a negative impact. The remainder felt it would make no difference.Even so, three-quarters of respondents said they regarded the Tories as the natural governing party for the City. "It is the only route to some degree of certainty,” said one executive. “The other (Labour Party) option risks a return to 1970s or even Soviet-style communism, in which the state would control financial services.”FN reported: "Huge political upheaval over the past few weeks and months has forced financial services to contemplate what many see as two unpalatable scenarios: a no-deal Brexit, which had been a strong possibility under Johnson; or a surprise election victory by the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.
"Finance workers still cannot stomach the idea of Corbyn, who has made clear his intentions to increase income tax for the country’s richest people upon taking office. Just five per cent of respondents thought a Corbyn government would be the best outcome for the Square Mile."Neil Wilson, chief market analyst for, a trading platform, said: “You need your head examined if you work in the Square Mile and don’t vote Tory.”Jon Moulton, the founder and managing partner at Better Capital, a private equity firm, added: “Brexit bad. Corbyn worse. Hail Boris.”The support for Mr Johnson chimes with the results of a separate poll of a group of heavyweight investors managing hundreds of billions of pounds. They have backed the PM to win a snap general election and keep the Conservative Party in power.According to that poll of 49 influential investors, conducted by opinion-sharing platform Procensus before campaigning began last week, almost 30 per cent said they believed the British public would vote to keep the Conservatives in government. Not one investor said the Labour Party would be able to win the election and form a government on its own.David Blake, a finance professor at London’s Cass Business School, told FN: “It is not surprising that the City does not support Labour, given it wants to impose a Marxist-style government bent on confiscating everyone’s wealth.“What is surprising is the view recently expressed by some, such as the Institute for Fiscal Studies, that a Corbyn government would be better than a no-deal Brexit. Anyone who believes this must have taken leave of their senses.”Despite the support for Mr Johnson, the FN poll also found that two-thirds of City workers felt that if Brexit were to be cancelled, it would be overwhelmingly positive for financial services.
This sentiment, however, has not translated into meaningful support in the City for the Liberal Democrats, who have said they would move to revoke Article 50 and halt the Brexit process if they won a majority in next month’s election.The FN poll found that only 14 per cent of respondents in the Square Mile believed the Lib Dems were the natural governing party for the financial services.But Sir Vince Cable, the former business secretary and ex-Liberal Democrat leader, said: “Maybe the City hasn’t collectively thought through what Brexit means. There is of course an alternative to Corbyn and Johnson, which is the Lib Dems: pro-business and with a proven record of competence in government.”Mr Blake added: “Most people in the City appear to want to remain in the EU, so it is perhaps surprising that more of your respondents have not favoured the Lib Dems — who are the most pro-Remain national political party in the country. Perhaps they do not believe they will be in a position to form a government, given their refusal to agree a pact with either Labour or the Tories."It will therefore be interesting to see how well Chuka Umunna, the new Lib Dem candidate for the cities of London and Westminster, does in the general election.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted

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