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Barnier: Bankers’ threats to leave are blackmail

Bankers threatening to leave the City of London because of European bonus guidelines are engaging in blackmail, according to the European Unions internal market commissioner.

Speaking yesterday at a Treasury select committee session, Michel Barnier told MPs the guidelines which have caused protests from banks would not see a flight of talent towards Asia or elsewhere.

He said: “I would not be overly impressed by the blackmail exerted in which this kind of risk is mentioned. I very much doubt there would be a flight of talent towards Asia or elsewhere.”

The guidelines could cap the size of a bonus relative to a bankers salary and require between 40 and 60 per cent of a bonus to be deferred for three to five years so it can be taken back if performance declines.

Barnier noted London’s position at the heart of the financial markets and said it was in bankers’ interests to stay. He said: “It is in their interest to stay even if they are paid slightly less.”

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