Business

Lloyds warns of Brexit 'uncertainty' in the short term

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Lloyds Banking Group has warned a UK vote to leave the EU would cause short term "economic uncertainty".

However, the bank said the long term impact was "unclear" because there was no certainty over how the UK's position outside the EU would evolve.

"The board is mindful that the future of the UK's relationship with the EU is a matter for the UK electorate, and that for many the debate is about more than just economics," it added.

The EU vote is on 23 June.

It's the first bank to speak out officially on the impact of the EU referendum vote, although in October its chairman Lord Brackwell said in the Lords there weren't "compelling arguments" for staying in the EU without "significant" reforms. He made it clear, however, that he was making the comments in a personal capacity.

Other bank bosses, including RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, Barclays boss Jes Staley and HSBC's chief executive and chair Stuart Gulliver and Douglas Flint have spoken out in favour of Britain staying in the EU, although all have emphasised that they were speaking in a personal capacity.

Lloyds said it had issued the statement following a board discussion earlier on Thursday, but said its view was based on "a range of third-party economic analysis".

It said it currently had no plans to discuss it any further at their AGM.

Huge risks?

Lucy Thomas, deputy director of Britain Stronger In Europe, the lead campaign for the In side, said the warning from Lloyds underscored the "huge risks to workers, savers and homeowners" if Britain voted to leave the EU.

"Leave campaigners who think this market is 'not important' should reflect on the at least three million jobs dependent on our trade with Europe", she said.

John Longworth, chairman of the official Out campaign Vote Leave, said: "What right do multinationals have to lecture us?

"The EU may work for the handful of large multinational banks that can afford the reams of red tape, but it will be the dynamic SMEs that will benefit if we Vote Leave on 23 June."

Lloyds' statement comes after the Bank of England earlier warned the EU referendum could hurt growth in the first half of this year as it held interest rates at 0.5%.

Vote Leave last month published a list of 250 business leaders who it said supported Britain leaving the EU.

The list included former HSBC chief executive Michael Geoghegan and the hotelier Sir Rocco Forte.

But Britain Stronger in Europe said at the time that Vote Leave could not find a business to officially back it, as those listed supported it in a "personal capacity".

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