Swiss banking group UBS has said that up to 1,500 of its London jobs could be moved abroad if Brexit becomes a reality.
The UK narrowly voted to leave the EU in a controversial referendum in June. Since then, the government and many businesses which operate in the UK have been coming to terms with the social, political and economic consequences of the leave vote. UBS has previously said that a “significant percent” of its London workforce would be moved if Brexit actually happened. Similarly, the Lloyds of London insurance market has also said that some of its businesses would be moved when the UK leaves the EU.
Currently, UBS employs approximately 5,000 staff at its London office.
UBS Chief Executive, Sergio Ermotti, told the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei that:
"We currently employ more than 5,000 people in London, and probably 20% to 30% of our workforce could be affected,"
"We believe that London will continue to be an important financial centre, although maybe not as important as it is today," he went on to say.
Mr Ermotti concluded that it was too early for the bank to take any decision about moving its operations from London, but that it was "well prepared" for any outcome of the impending Brexit negotiations. UBS is the latest bank to comment on the Brexit outcome with many other UK banks considering moves abroad following June’s referendum.
Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers' Association, told a House of Lords EU committee that banks are pondering moves abroad.
Mr Brown was called to give evidence at the "Brexit: Financial Services" to the EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee where he encouraged the Sub-Committee to keep current arrangements as close as possible to those now in place within the EU. Additionally, Mr Brown told the Sub-Committee that: "We think there should be some form of transitional arrangements”.
He went on to say that would remove uncertainty and ease pressure on banks, while also avoiding "cliff edge" disruption to markets.
The Lords were told that once Britain has begun formal talks to withdraw from the EU, departure will take place after two years. The Lords were also told that Brexit would still go ahead even if no new trade deals were reached, unless all EU member states agreed to extend the negotiation period. However this seems unlikely as many EU member states have expressed that they are keen to get negotiations under way in order to swiftly conclude Brexit.