The risk of a British exit [‘Brexit’] from the European Union is causing major political uncertainty for the insurance industry, the chief executive of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said on Tuesday.
This is compounded by the risk of a break-up of Britain if Scotland votes in future for independence, Huw Evans said in the text of a speech to a European insurance conference.
“In the UK, the real political uncertainty for our sector comes from the dual and interconnected possibility that the UK could leave the EU and that the UK could dissolve if Scotland voted to become independent,” Evans said.
“Even five years ago, the likelihood of both would have seemed far more remote than they do now and so we certainly cannot be complacent,” he added.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday he could provoke another independence vote if he failed to secure Britain’s continued EU membership because Edinburgh sees its future in Europe.
Insurers are nervous that “Brexit” would make it more difficult and expensive to sell their products in Europe.
The insurance and fund management industries have traditionally had a strong presence in Scotland.
Lloyd’s of London Chief Executive Inga Beale and the International Underwriting Association last week expressed concern about the risk of a British exit from the EU.
Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Edinburgh-headquartered insurer Standard Life and of TheCityUK, which promotes Britain as a financial center, said in March that Brexit would be “disastrous for London and the UK.”
Evans said the industry would be “under pressure to have a collective position and I would certainly expect this to feature heavily in ABI discussions over the coming months.”
The conference, hosted by JP Morgan, was closed to the media.
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Keith Weir)
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