JPMorgan CEO Says Hard Brexit Would Be a ‘Disaster’ for Britain

January 16, 2019, 6:59 PM UTC
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said he thinks a hard Brexit is unlikely but would be a “disaster” if it happened.

Dimon’s bank is prepared for the possibility of Britain crashing out of the European Union, having spent hundreds of millions on preparations to avoid scrambling to continue operating across Europe, he said in a lunchtime interview Wednesday held by the Economic Club of New York.

“A hard Brexit will be a disaster for Great Britain,” he said. “We don’t think it’s going to happen, because it’s bad for Europe too.”

The U.K. is at a crossroads after Parliament emphatically rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday. The defeat leaves May’s divorce agreement with the European Union all but dead and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn trying to force a general election. While May believes she will survive Wednesday’s no-confidence vote, it’s unclear how long she or her Brexit strategy will last.

Dimon said he understands the British desire to separate from the EU, but said the U.K. population is only now realizing how messy divorce is. A withdrawal agreement between the two blocs resembles a U.K. “surrender” more than it does a negotiation, he said.

“It’s a really complicated situation,” said Dimon, who campaigned against Brexit prior to the vote in 2016. “The Brits were dealt a bad hand, and they played it badly.”