Leader comment: Sometimes when Wolf! is shouted, there is a wolf

HSBC is preparing to move hundreds of finance jobs to France following Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit speech. Picture: Getty Images
HSBC is preparing to move hundreds of finance jobs to France following Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit speech. Picture: Getty Images
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The warnings that were issued by the Remain campaign over the impact of Brexit are still causing damage. As has been widely agreed, they were exaggerated because there was a political objective during the run-up to the vote.

But after George Osborne’s prediction that he would have to slash public spending and increase taxes in an emergency Budget in the event of a Brexit vote proved wrong, and David Cameron’s prediction of the UK going in to a self-caused recession failed to come true, any warning of dire economic consequences is now easily dismissed. It’s as if they had never heard of the boy crying wolf.

And in fact the latest Business in Britain report from Lloyds Banking Group – which is published twice a year – last week showed business confidence index had risen to 14 per cent from 12 per cent in September.

So many will be quick to dismiss the warning from Xavier Rolet, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange Group. Those keen to support leaving the EU will say it is only a prediction (as are business confidence surveys). But there are some very important factors to consider here. The first is that it is a highly-respected businessman who is voicing the frankly alarming prospect of an exodus of 232,000 jobs from the financial sector. The second is that it came from a report produced by professional services firm EY. The third is that there is no vote to influence now.

This is a dire prediction for Scotland and particularly Edinburgh. But there are steps that can be taken to lessen the impact, and there are vital concessions that could be won during negotiations. There is still a choice as to how we Brexit. As Aesop tells us, there really was a wolf in the end.