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City Debate 2017

“This House believes that the rest of the world more than makes up for the loss of Europe.”

To be held on Tuesday, March 7, 2017

At the Mansion House, London EC4N 8BH


  • Helena Morrissey

  • Alex Brummer

  • Sylvie Goulard MEP

  • Hugo Dixon

The City Debate is 21 years old – grown up by any standards.

For the last five years, it has been organised jointly by the CSFI and the CISI – and, each year, it gets a little bigger, brighter and better. (At least, we hope it does.)

Although the last year has been one of the most turbulent any of us can remember (culminating in the revenge of the ‘deplorables’ in the US), there is really only one topic as far as the City is concerned – ‘Brexit’. However, the last thing any of us wants is to refight the battles of the referendum. So, this year’s motion has to be forward-looking. 

That’s not so easy, given the uncertainties: How will the Supreme Court rule? When will Mrs May push (or be allowed to push) the Article 50 button? How will the heavy European election schedule affect the EU27’s willingness to negotiate? And of course, does a Trump victory mean that the UK is still “back of the queue”? But (with the caveat that we may change the exact wording depending on the state of the world) this year’s motion is expected to be something like:

“This House believes that the rest of the world more than makes up for the loss of Europe.”

This is the key issue. Do those sunlit uplands shine so brightly as to make up for the likely loss of preferential access to the EU-27 market? Or is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush?

Moderating this year (as she has for the last four years) is the irrepressible Angela Knight – who has now been given the Sisyphean task of running our Office of Tax Simplification (but whom we in the City remember better as chief executive of the BBA during some very dark days).

This year’s speakers are equally distinguished: 

  • For the motion (i.e. passionate that the UK’s future is global) are:
    • Helena Morrissey, chair of the Investment Association and former CEO of Newton Investment Management and soon to be the head of personal investing at LGIM. She also founded the 30% Club, and sits on the board of UKTI; and
    • Alex Brummer, who has headed the Daily Mail’s financial coverage as City Editor since 2000 (4 ½ million housewives can’t be wrong).  
  • Against the motion (i.e. equally rabid in defence of the European ideal) are:
    • Sylvie Goulard, a leading member of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, who sits on both the ECON and D-US Committees. She is also president of the Mouvement Européen France and writes regularly for European newspapers; and
    • Hugo Dixon, founder of BreakingViews and currently chairman of InFacts (which is dedicated to making a “fact-based case to stay in the EU”). He is a former Business Journalist of the Year, who spent 12 years at the FT.

A powerful bunch….This year’s format is as in previous years: a rather grand, high profile, black-tie dinner with the kind of pomp and circumstance that only the Mansion House can pull off. Our moderator promises to take no prisoners, and our speakers will pull no punches. As usual, there will be electronic voting machines, and enough food and drink to mellow the hardest of hearts.

As in previous years, there will be approximately 24 tables of ten, plus several Club Tables for individuals or smaller groups. Institutions will be able to buy one or more tables. There are also opportunities for different levels of corporate sponsorship.

The timings for the evening are as follows:
6.00pm Reception -- 6.45pm Call to Dinner -- Dinner & City Debate -- 10.00pm Stirrup Cup -- 10.30pm Carriages

We are keen to build on the success of recent years. I very much hope, therefore, that as many as possible of CSFI and CISI friends will support us – by buying tickets, by taking tables, by sponsoring the event itself.

It is an important topic and a good cause – and we can (I hope) guarantee a lively debate. I trust that we will see you there. Please let us know whether we can count on you, either by emailing us ( or by calling the office on 020-7621-1056.