Brexit threatens financial jobs in Edinburgh says MSP

Scotland Stronger In Europe campaigners in Edinburgh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

Scotland Stronger In Europe campaigners in Edinburgh. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

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NEW Labour MSP Daniel Johnson has used his maiden speech in the Scottish Parliament to warn that Brexit would threaten jobs in Edinburgh’s financial sector.

Speaking during a Holyrood debate on the European Union, the Edinburgh Southern MSP said polls showed his constituency was one of the most pro-EU, not just in Scotland but the whole of the UK.

Ripping us out of Europe would put thousands of jobs at risk in what is indisputably one of Scotland’s vital industries.

Daniel Johnson

“That is because Europe is real,” he said. “Edinburgh University alone receives £45 million a year in research funding from the EU.

“Universities gain strength from their diverse student communities. At Edinburgh, there are 4500 non-UK EU students; and more than 1000 Edinburgh students participate in the Erasmus programme every year. For them, the opportunities of Europe are clear and concrete.”

And he stressed the importance of the financial services sector. “Some 100,000 people are employed directly by financial services in Scotland, with another 100,000 in supporting roles. Edinburgh is a major centre of asset management in Europe. That activity and those jobs rely on Europe.

“Our service sector has become fundamental to our export drive, and our financial services expertise is at the core of that.

“On talk of trade, Brexiteers snort that the Germans will still want to sell us Volkswagens and will continue to buy Dyson vacuum cleaners. However, in reality, the export of services is far more important and is far more likely to get snarled up in cross-border regulation–with justification, because it is important that cross-border financial activity is controlled and regulated.

“Ripping us out of Europe would put thousands of jobs at risk in what is indisputably one of Scotland’s vital industries.”

Also making his maiden speech in the EU debate, Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the original European treaties had been born out of a shared desire for a continued and lasting peace.

He told how, 100 years ago, his great grand-uncle, a private in the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, was killed at the age of 23, along with 80 per cent of his battalion, on the first day of the battle of Mont Sorrel.

“Just a generation later, his sacrifice was met by that of two of my grandfather’s four siblings, who were killed on active service, this time in World War II. It is a measure of the success of the European project that I am only the second generation in my entire family to never have to contemplate taking up arms against our nearest European neighbours.

“The Brexiteers paint a very nice picture of what it would be to reclaim all our sovereignty, but it is a doctrine of isolationism, pure and simple. In this increasingly globalised world, human traffickers will never recognise that isolation; climate change will not recognise it, and neither will terrorists.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com