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Why London will lose

Make no mistake about it, if the United Kingdom decides not to join European monetary union, London will suffer as a financial centre.

During the past few months, some senior bankers in the City of London - most notably Stanislas Yassukovich, former head of Merrill Lynch in Europe - have tried to argue that the City's long tradition as a cross-border financing centre will allow it to thrive regardless.

It is noticeable, however, that these arguments tend to come from bankers who anyway dislike emu for political reasons. To justify their opposition to emu, they need to be able to deny that a British opt-out would harm the country's important financial services industry.

This magazine has long been sceptical about the benefits of emu and dubious about whether exchange rates can successfully be locked together in the stage prior to the introduction of the single currency without creating unbearable turbulence in financial markets.

But, looked at logically and dispassionately, we believe that the arguments that the City would be worse off outside the currency bloc are unanswerable. It may be, therefore, that even those who, like us, doubt the wisdom of the single currency project, should push for Britain to join.

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