Economic and monetary affairs committee chair and Liberal Democrat MEP Sharon Bowles says it would be a disaster for financial services if the UK voted to leave the EU.
Prime minister David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and hold an in/out referendum on the new relationship in 2017.
Bowles says thousands of financial services jobs across the country rely on EU membership and would be under threat if the UK left the union.
She says: “It would be a disaster as there would be no more passporting into Europe. The idea that without the passport the UK would be the financial capital of Europe is absolutely not the case. Financial services would be one of the areas that is hugely impacted.”
Bowles also dismissed calls from the FreshStart group of more than 100 Conservative MPs for the UK to remain in the EU but wield a veto over financial services rules, claiming
it is “impossible” to achieve.
Bowles says: “It absolutely will not work, it is total rubbish and there is not a cat in hell’s chance of it happening. The other countries will not yield to it because financial services is part of the single market. We do not allow the Germans to have a veto over car manufacturing rules, so it is a non-starter.”
But Conservative MEP Vicky Ford, who last week kick-started the debate over how to reform EU financial services rules, says Bowles is wrong to say a no vote would be a disaster.
She says: “It is an over-reaction to say a no vote will automatically be a disaster without knowing what the terms of the relationship will be. Does the rest of the EU really want UK firms to never get a passport?
“This is a complex renegotiation and financial services will play a key part so it is wrong to pre-judge it.
“We cannot keep going on as we are at the moment.”