London will remain an important global financial hub after Brexit, according to billionaire businessman and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
He said the UK’s departure from the EU would likely slow down London’s economic growth but said the capital would “be the financial centre of Europe for the foreseeable future”.
“It has the things the finance industry needs: it is English speaking, it is family-friendly, it has a lot of cultures so you can attract those people here,” Mr Bloomberg told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What will happen with Brexit is that some jobs will move – although they may have very well be replaced here – but the growth rate of London as a financial centre will certainly not be what it would be if Brexit didn’t take place.”
Mr Bloomberg last month labelled Brexit the “single dumbest thing” a country has ever done – apart from electing of Donald Trump.
Mr Bloomberg, who is estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of $48bn, has been a staunch critic of the US president. In August he questioned whether Mr Trump’s claims to be a billionaire were true. He has also been highly critical of Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
Last week, the businessman opened a £1bn, one-million-square-foot office in central London close to St Paul’s Cathedral. Asked on Tuesday whether he would still have gone ahead with the development had he known about Brexit, he replied that he “absolutely would have”. That contrasts with comments he reportedly made in October suggesting that he might have reconsidered the decision.
Mr Bloomberg also praised London’s often-criticised transport system. “It is a city with the best transportation and communication and scale and it is already here, so it’s hard to see that going away.”
Mr Bloomberg, who made much of his fortune from the data terminals which many bankers and traders in the City of London use, said that London would remain the financial capital of Europe, as New York is to the United States, “for a long time”.
Financial services firms and City lobby groups have repeatedly warned about the damage that could be caused if the UK were to leave the EU without continued access to the single market.
Estimates of the number of jobs that could go in the industry have varied wildly. A Bank of England official warned that up to 75,000 financial services jobs could be lost as a result of Brexit, according to a recent BBC report, while a survey by Reuters pointed to around 10,000 jobs moving to European hubs including Frankfurt and Dublin at 10,000.