Three senior bankers from Barclays, J.P. Morgan and Citi descended on the House of Commons today to give evidence to the Treasury Select Committee on the impact of a No Deal Brexit. Their interview must have seemed like perfect timing for Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is currently doing his own tour of the Commons and is expected to drum up support for Chequers by stoking fears of the calamitous impact of No Deal
Unfortunately for Hammond, the three bankers were not nearly as morose as the Treasury could have hoped for. Instead they said the risks of No Deal were comparable to the instability they regularly faced across the world.
James Bardrick, Head of Citi UK said:
‘As an industry we are actually used, we operate in 160 countries around the world, we are physically present in a 100 and I can tell you there has never been a time in my 30 plus years in the organisation where there hasn’t been something quite dramatic going on as change.’
Kevin Wall, CEO of Barclays Ireland also played down the risks of No Deal, saying:
‘We face these challenges day after day now. Our European business is about 10pc, it’s important, but its only 10pc’
These level headed predictions were a little surprising to Mr Steerpike though, considering how dramatic all three banking houses were in the run-up to, and aftermath of the Referendum.
Back in 2016, the Barclays Chairman warned that Brexit was ‘a political crisis that has the potential to create an economic one.’ Citigroup predicted large job cuts to its 9,000 based London staff and the CEO of J.P. Morgan said that the firm may move out of the UK:
‘If we have that passport after Brexit, we likely would not have to make any change at all. But I think the European Union will not accept that. It will put more conditions on the U.K. and might force banks to become smaller in London.’
All three now admit that job losses in their firms will be in the low hundreds.
It seems that the three horsemen of the apocalypse have become the three stooges, and finally exposed Project Fear for what it was.