Banking

British Banks Eyeing Brexit Exit

British banks are planning their escape route in light of the looming Brexit negotiations. Experts say the bigger banks are planning to leave the U.K. in early 2017, while smaller ones could be gone by Christmas.

“Their hands are quivering over the relocate button,” said Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association. He told The Observer that “the public and political debate at the moment is taking us in the wrong direction.”

Banks, of course, aren’t the only entities debating whether to sit or stay in the U.K.

As PYMNTS reported at the end of September, 75 percent of British CEOs are debating whether to shuffle their companies out of the country. That’s according to a survey of 100 U.K. chief executives, published by KPMG.

The June 23 “Brexit” vote has stirred uncertainty, and it doesn't seem to be subsiding.

The main concern for both banks and businesses surrounds trade. Experts like Browne say Brexit doesn’t just imply more tariffs on trade but more so whether banks have the legal ability and rights to provide services.

"The problem comes — as seems increasingly likely, judging by the rhetoric — when national governments try to use the EU exit negotiations to build walls across the Channel to split Europe's integrated financial market in two, in order to force jobs from London," said Browne. "From a European perspective, this would be cutting off its nose to spite its face.”

Ultimately, he added, this could slow the wider economy, with jobs moving to other European financial hubs, like Paris and Frankfurt, and cause higher expenses for companies in terms of investment.

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