The City is entering the general election facing an unenviable choice over which party to support, denting its long-held backing of the Conservatives.
Asked which party would get the best deal for the financial services industry on Brexit, a third of respondents to a Financial News poll said the Liberal Democrats, compared with half who said Conservative, traditionally the favoured party in the Square Mile. Less than 10% chose Labour.
One reader said the vote was a “horrible choice for the City as none of the parties want to stand up for the financial industry”.
Frustration over Brexit is spilling over into some executives’ voting preference. Another City professional added: “As a remain supporter, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I do not support the Lib Dems on almost any issue but Brexit so there is no party that I feel I can support.”
Concern over the implications of the UK’s exit from the EU continues to weigh on the minds of many financial services executives. One executive said: “Any Brexit outcome – even “the best possible deal” will be worse than continued membership.” Another added Brexit was an “own goal for the UK” that would “needlessly damage the City”.
Despite the unease, a Tory victory is likely, according to the poll of 234 readers, with 80% predicting the party will win an outright majority. But most of those believe the majority will remain small. Just 5% believe Labour will win an outright majority despite the party’s improved polling in recent weeks.
With the chances of a Liberal Democrat win remote, most of the City is hoping for a Conservative victory. Half said a large Tory majority would be the best outcome and another quarter favoured a small Tory majority. One in five said a coalition would be the best outcome.
Conversely, half said a Labour win would be the worst outcome, while slightly more than a quarter feared a hung parliament or coalition government.
There was also broad support for Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond, whose future has been subject to speculation, with two thirds saying they would support him staying on under a Conservative government.
Comment: Whoever wins, the City loses. Page 3