According to Economic Secretary to the Treasury Harriett Baldwin, the UK leaving the European Union would be ‘a leap in the dark’.
Baldwin spoke at Zurich
’s UK Life headquarters. The insurer employs 7,000 people in the UK, with 1,000 based at the Swindon office.
She warned that Brexit will be felt not only in London, but even in other places such as Swindon, where 13,000 people work in the financial sector. Having access to the European single market allowed the UK to provide over £22bn of financial services to the EU in 2014, making up 33% of the UK’s total financial, insurance and pensions services exports. It also brought in £280bn worth of investments.
“It gives us added attraction for international investors,” Baldwin said. “Half of the world’s largest financial services firms have chosen the UK as the European headquarters.”
“The financial services industry in the South West continues to grow. There are 91,000 people employed in financial services and a further 78,000 working in associated professional services.
"A vote to stay will protect these jobs and promote further economic growth across the whole of South West,” she added.
Baldwin argued that a vote to leave would be self-destruction for the economy. If the UK were to do business with the EU as an outsider, it would have to abide by the same rules but have no chance to influence change.
Treasury analysis showed that Brexit would cause the economy to go into recession and up to 45,000 jobs could be lost in the region.
However, Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson said: "The UK is a global power and financial services is a key part of why we are the fifth largest economy. But it is vital ahead of the referendum that the remain campaign should focus on the opportunities and a positive case, not simply peddling doomsday scenarios."