Ed Miliband has slammed the Conservative’s European policy, saying that it poses “a grave risk” to Britain’s position in the world.
Miliband’s comments came in a speech this afternoon, after HSBC bank announced this morning that they are considering moving their headquarters out of London, outlining the EU membership uncertainty as a reason for doing so.
The bank’s chairman, Douglas Flint, earlier revealed his fears surrounding the EU, stating that the Eurozone membership uncertainty, among other things, “could materially affect economic conditions and confidence around investment and consumption decisions.”
“One economic uncertainty stands out,” he said. “That of continuing UK membership of the EU. In February we published a major research study which concluded that working to complete the Single Market in services and reforming the EU to make it more competitive were far less risky than going it alone, given the importance of EU markets to British trade.”
Miliband’s comments on this matter came in a speech in London this afternoon, where he criticised the Conservative’s EU policy. “By far the most important cause of our loss of influence is the position of this government, I believe, in regard to the European Union,” he said.
“The threat of an in-out referendum on an arbitrary timetable with no clear goals for their proposed European renegotiation, no strategy for achieving it and a governing party riven with internal divisions over our future in the EU.”
He continued, saying: “I’ve got to be candid, and we have seen it confirmed again with HSBC today, I think all of this poses a grave risk to Britain’s position in the world. Of course the European Union needs to change, there are demands for it to change in almost every other member state.”
Away from the EU controversy, HSBC are one of the largest banks in Britain, so the announcement that they are actively looking to move their HQ out of London is also a real worry for London as a financial centre.
David Cameron commented on this and reacted to HSBC’s announcement in his Q and A this afternoon, saying: “London is the world’s leading financial centre, and has improved as a financial centre not least by changing the way we regulate banks so that we wouldn’t have to bail them out with taxpayers’ money in future as the last Labour government had to do.
“But it is an important reminder of how vital it is that we keep a pro-enterprise, pro-business, pro-employment policy in our country. We need to keep taxes low, make this an attractive place to invest. All the time I have been prime minister that is what we have been doing, record levels of inward investment coming here.”