5 reasons why Londoners should care about the EU referendum

London is an amazing city. It’s a truly global city with every nationality and culture represented. This year it was once again crowned the world’s most visited city – beating our arch rivals, Paris.

London is also a truly European capital – of the three million foreign-born residents in London at least 40% are from Europe. It is a European city that risks leaving Europe’s club of nations – the European Union.

Britain’s EU referendum will be debated across the country but no British city will feel the impact of the decision more than London.

A woman holds a Union flag umbrella in front of the Big Ben clock tower and the Houses of Parliament in London

Here are 5 top reasons why Londoners should care about Europe and the EU referendum:

1) London risks losing its spot as top EU business capital

London hosts 40% of the European HQ of the world’s top companies. 60% of top non-European companies with a HQ in Europe have chosen London as their base.

It cannot be denied that London’s relationship with Europe and Britain’s membership of the EU is one of the reasons a company would choose to have its HQ in London.

New companies establishing themselves in the EU market want unheeded access to Europe’s Single Market. If the UK were to leave, would companies start considering other options for their base?

2) London’s access to the Single Market would be put at risk, jeopardising London jobs and investment

The EU is the world’s biggest economy and provides access to a potential consumer market of 500 million people, approximately 7% of the world’s population. The EU is also London’s biggest trading partner, responsible for 30-40% of total exports.

Being part of the Single Market supports London’s status as an international economic hub – something that appeals to international investors. London currently attracts the most Foreign Direct Investment of any city in Europe – how much of that is linked to access to the Single Market?

3) London’s businesses big, medium and small want to remain in the EU

In a London Boardroom Barometer survey, over 80% of London’s CEOs said they wanted the UK to remain in the EU, whilst a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) showed that 55% of London’s small businesses said they would vote for Britain to remain in the EU.

Big businesses continue to speak to speak about the importance of access to the Single Market – the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) is openly supportive of UK’s EU membership and 55% of British Chambers of Commerce members are in favour of a “reformed Europe”.

The referendum is clearly an issue of concern for London’s business owners and many are starting to speak up – most recently the Chief Executive of Pimlico Plumbers explained why the UK is better off inside Europe than out.

4) London’s financial services sector will be threatened

London is without a doubt Europe’s financial services capital. However, being a member of the EU is important for UK competitiveness and for ensuring continuous growth.

According to a recent City of London Corporation report - London’s financial centre will grow if Britain stays in EU.

The “Brexit” risk is already causing political and economic uncertainty for various industries and sectors. Companies are preparing contingency plans and investors may consider delaying investing in new projects. Will London remain the EU’s top “StartUp Ecosystem” if it’s no longer part of the Single Market?

5) London’s property market will be impacted

The political and economic uncertainty of what would happen if the UK were to leave the EU would certainly dampen, if not suspend investment projects in London. 66% of real estate experts said “Britain leaving the EU would have a negative impact on inbound cross-border investment.”

Construction of new housing complexes and homes for Londoners could be postponed whilst the UK renegotiates its relationship with Europe – further deepening London’s housing shortages.

London will always be a European city, but losing the leading position and influence it has as a top EU capital, will undoubtedly have long term effects on the capital.

London should always have a leading voice in the EU and should work to drive through EU reforms which will help to maintain its position as the EU’s top capital.

by Natalia Marczewska