Scotland politics

Row over Brexit impact on Scottish financial jobs

financial services Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Scotland supports tens of thousands of jobs in the financial services industry

Leaving the European Union could put tens of thousands of jobs in Scotland's financial sector at risk, the economic secretary to the Treasury has claimed.

Harriett Baldwin visited Edinburgh to warn industry leaders against "a dangerous leap into the dark".

However, Dr Gerard Lyons of Economists for Brexit said these were "misplaced fears" and insisted Edinburgh could remain a "strong financial centre".

Elsewhere in the referendum, Scottish Labour launched its pro-EU campaign.

Speaking to the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Baldwin said being part of the EU gave Scotland access to a "financial services passport".

She said: "This means that if you're in the EU and you are a financial services firm, you can sell your services right across 28 countries, an area of 500m customers, and that's really important and really valuable.

"And it's not something that under any other kind of trade arrangement anyone has been able to achieve."

How big is Scotland's financial sector?


Directly employed


Indirectly employed

  • 7% - Of total Scottish employment

  • £8.8bn - Value to Scottish economy


Asked if this was an example of the so-called "project fear" of negative campaigning, Ms Baldwin said it simply underlined the importance both of the sector and of EU membership.

She said: "I think we should celebrate the fact that our financial services sector is one of the great strengths of the UK economy.

"It employs directly a million people. 85,000 of them here in Scotland, and of course there are related financial and economic services which employ another million people. I think that's a really important component of our economy - it's something like 7% of the Scottish economy.

"We shouldn't underestimate the value of that passport we have into the European market."

'Misplaced fears'

Dr Lyons told the same programme that there was a "positive, longer-term case" for leaving the EU, with a more global approach to business.

He said: "In the last decade we've had globalisation, technical change and innovation - but the EU has gone in the opposite direction, controlling, regulating and centralising. There is uncertainty if we remain in the European Union as well as if we leave.

"When it comes to the financial sector, we have heard these fears before. We heard these fears about Edinburgh and London prior to the debate on the Euro, then it was said that if the UK didn't join the Euro we would lose out to the likes of Frankfurt, Amsterdam, even Paris, as financial centres.

"But the reality is that when one looks globally, there are very few countries that have big, strong financial centres. The UK is thankfully one of them, Now our competition is with the likes of America, with New York, with Singapore, with Hong Kong.

"So in terms of the UK we don't really have any major competitive financial centre against us in the rest of Western Europe

"So there's no doubt in my mind that despite the misplaced fears and the uncertainty that people keep talking about, Edinburgh as well as London will remain strong financial centres if we are to embrace Brexit."

Image caption Alan Johnson and Kezia Dugdale launched Scottish Labour's pro-EU campaign

Meanwhile, the Labour In for Scotland campaign was launched by Kezia Dugdale and Alan Johnson in Edinburgh.

Addressing Scottish voters, Mr Johnson said "you can keep your national identity and be part of something bigger", promoting the idea of being both Scottish and European.

Questioned about the idea that Scotland is more pro-EU than the UK as a whole, Ms Dugdale added that "if we believe we are more pro-European than our neighbours, then there may be a greater responsibility on us to make a positive case for Europe".

Responding, the Scottish Vote Leave campaign said there was "no left wing case" for remaining in the EU, describing it as "an organisation based on austerity which harms the poor".

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