Boris Johnson has warned his New York counterpart, Michael Bloomberg, against any attempts to poach Barclays Bank from its London home.
Clearly hoping to guilt-trip the turquoise banking giants into sticking around, the mayor said: ‘Barclays is a British bank that has quite literally laid down roots here with the cycle bike scheme it has sponsored over the last nine months.’ Michael Bloomberg was altogether more laconic about his apparent desire to see Barclays up sticks, stating at a press briefing: ‘I hope they move here; it’d be great for us.’ The bank, however, have said: ‘London is where we want to be.’ Which seems fairly unequivocal to us.
It’s the second time within a month that Boris has appealed to the banks – he urged HSBC to reconsider their suggestion that they would abandon London as their HQ. He also went public with his strong desire for Barclays to stump up another £25m for cycling projects in London. Standard Chartered also threatened to quit the capital over increases in regulation.
Fears that banks will move out of London have provoked a mixed reaction in the fallout of the financial crisis; some would be only too happy to slam the door behind them, but according to the Evening Standard report, Barclays alone employs 58,000 people in the UK and is worth billions to the economy so losing all that lovely tax and local spending couldn’t exactly be described as a triumph for the nation but more of an exercise in cutting off our noses to spite our faces. Vandalism at branches of HSBC, RBS and Santander at the recent anti-cuts protest showed that public anti-bank feeling is slow to die down as well as demonstrating the apparent lack of understanding around the difference between retail banking and investment banking – also the subject of a Daily Mash satire.