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| INTERVIEW |

of attracting business, and that applies to tax and to regulation. CITY: Accounting for 47 per cent of UK exports in Q4 2016, the EU is our largest trading partner. Will we be forced to fight for scraps from elsewhere to make up the deficit? MB: A country doesn’t do trade deals. Whenever you hear that the Prime Minister’s travelled to China and signed a trade deal, it’s complete nonsense. All the country can do is have the right framework and infrastructure for trade to take place. The most important theory of trade is what is called the ‘gravity theory of trade’, where you trade with people close to you, and there are fairly obvious reasons for that. I run my own consultancy business. Would I go to New Zealand and do a project for a week? No. Would I go to Brussels? Yes. CITY: Should we establish trade deals with America?

from one extreme to the other. At the moment, we would say that there’s an uncomfortably small supply. It may be that in two years there’s an uncomfortably large supply. Will it be a disaster? We’re not expecting that. CITY: Is London doing a good job at educating its youngsters? MB: From the evidence we’ve got, by the age of five, a child from a disadvantaged background is getting on for one year behind. By the age of 11, they’ve almost had it. Education in London has, however, improved amazingly in the past 20 to 30 years. A year ago, we had a careers fair for all

“The City has been successful partly because it has seized opportunities that other countries have not – the French and Americans to some extent” MB: We could, provided we let the Americans write them. The Americans would be giving our 60 million people access to their 300 million and we’d be giving their 300 million access to our 60 million, so to be an equal trade deal we’d need to give them five times as much. What is it that they’d want to export to us? Food products – that might not please our farmers. CITY: Has Brexit put paid to any of the skyscrapers planned for the City? MB: 22 Bishopsgate is going ahead, the biggest building in Europe, and it’s speculative – it doesn’t have any tenants, and it’s still going up. There’s very little vacant space in the City. You look at the share prices of the developers – is the market anticipating they’re going to be in deep trouble? No. CITY: If all the planned towers get built and then we fall into recession, will the City be flooded with an oversupply of office space? MB: Well, that’s what normally happens in a market cycle – you go

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of the 14-year-olds in Hackney. That wouldn’t have been contemplated 10 years ago. We had the big investment banks, the law firms, the accountancy firms, all looking to recruit. We also run programmes that get 11-year-olds into City businesses. It’s mainly about leaving them with the thought that, actually, this might be a place for them. CITY: Are inner city schools an untapped resource for City firms? MB: If you take a 21-year-old graduate who’s been to Westminster School and then a Russell Group University, you’re getting them at perhaps 95 per cent of their capacity. If you take somebody who’s been to Hackney Academy and then Wolverhampton University, you’re getting them at maybe 70 per cent. What they’re lacking is the communication skills, the social capital, the ability to network, which they will learn. It means an employer can get people with a capacity to develop. CITY: Why has London boomed in the 21st century, while other financial centres have floundered? MB: The City has been successful partly because it has seized opportunities that other countries have not – the French and Americans to some extent. With the French, Paris potentially could be a big rival to London. It is the centre of France, it’s very well connected, and has a big finance industry. The regulator is OK, they’re merely stuck with employment laws and taxes that make it uneconomic. The notion that nobody can rival the City is true in the short term. In the long term, cities are looking at us: Singapore has developed very well, the infrastructure can be built up over time. Businesses go where the people are, but also people go where the businesses are. It’s two way. And Frankfurt, I’m told, is a very nice place.

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City Magazine March 2017  

Welcome to the March edition of The City magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features, articles and r...

City Magazine March 2017  

Welcome to the March edition of The City magazine, celebrating the dynamism of the area and bringing you the latest features, articles and r...

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