Interview with Barclay’s Brexit strategist/RHS old boy – Esme Peters

What is your fondest memory of Drake? 

The camaraderie, the jokes, the banta, the friendships, and the pranks. The people make the place, and I think that can be said for wherever you go, I mean the buildings may have changed but some of the friends I made there are still my best friends today. I think it’s the memories and the experiences you can share with those people. When I was here punishments were stricter, prefects would make you stand to attention, but even when we were being punished catching your friends eye and remembering a joke from half an hour before and suddenly you’re trying to stifle giggles. 

What advice would you give your younger self? 

I would tell myself to be more confident, and comfortable in my own skin. When I was fifteen I had minus 12 vision so I was very insecure about my glasses, so if I could give my younger self any advice it would be just don’t worry about it as much, no one else cares. 

Do you regret not going into sport professionally? 

I do, it was the 2015 world cup and I think Australia were playing and I think I had been bred to believe that rugby players were these fantastically monstrous men. And at the time as well I dint think there was a pathway to those professions for me, we had a few superstars at the school at the time – guy called Peter Richards played in the world cup final against Australia and an Anson boy who became a professional basketball player. So there was that pathway for ‘shining stars’, I was quiet quick but I think there was individuals like myself who had we been pushed more at the time we would probably have gone done that line. It’s a small regret of mine. 

Opinions and feelings on the achievements of Eliud Kipchoge? (Kenyan marathon runner who broke the world record) 

He was quoted saying ‘that anything you believe, you can achieve’ and I think that’s a great mantra to have, where if you have the ambition and the drive to get somewhere I genuinely think you can achieve what you want to achieve.

On the topic of the Stormzy effect – how important do you think that institutions such as Oxbridge and Government are representative of society as a whole? 

I do think it’s really important, I mean I did go to Cambridge and I did pick a college that was inclusive and was forward thinking in being inclusive to ethnic minorities and also making sure that they were equally balanced between genders : which was important to me. Essentially if everyone has an equal playing field we also have the same capacity to achieve the same things, given that I think Stormzy has done a fantastic thing, not necessarily because it’s a scholarship because that can only impact one or two people but by shining a light on something which needs the attention. I find what people move towards or away from quiet interesting, I applied to Cambridge slightly strangely. I received my A level results and I can back to school and I said to a history teacher I would like to go to Cambridge and he said well you’ve got the grades. Interestingly lots of my friends and family outside of the school, black and white, had very interesting opinions based on race; I had some people say yeh go for it and some who said that I shouldn’t do it given that black people don’t go to Cambridge. So when people like Stormzy put people forward it then encourages others to think about what they can achieve within themselves. 

Do you believe diversity of ethnic and gender representation is more important or diversity of opinion? 

I think that diversity proves its value and that through, opposed to just representing the view if you can live that view and provide that voice that is possibly more powerful. I don’t thats to downplay the efforts of those who are under represented but I think there is something to say for people who have had certain experiences bringing those experiences to the table 

If you were to focus on one issue in society and fix it what would that issue be?

Outside of removing Donald Trump, I would look at disaffected young men and mental health. I think that would make the world a better place, a lot of that starts at home and in the family I think it is now further understood but I feel if there is a burgeoning crisis, I think a lot of crime that you see nowadays is mental health driven so I would start there. 

Are you a remainer or a leaver? 

Depends on when you’re asking: studying law at university I was a leaver, studying EU law I thought what are we doing why are we here, not having the final say in our courts and the imposition of laws and how those laws were applied and all those sort of things. And I thought its not like we’re getting a great deal here. However as I’ve become older, I am now a remainer. I think that some principles that the EU espouses, also for me being a son of an immigrant, I think free movement of people is really important. I don’t necessarily believe there should be a free for all culture in terms of come to Britain, but I think people of value should be allowed in the country and they should be allowed to add value. Statistically speaking people who come to Britain do add value, so to that end I think looking around the city and in terms of what this does for us as a financial power, to leave the EU is highly damaging. Regardless of what anyone tells you, we talk daily to our government relations guy who tries to, almost from a lobbying perspective, connect with the government to understand what moves they want to make next. In terms of the way we (Barclays) perceive it and the damage it will do to our bank I can say that a political problem has become an economic one. The British people were not equipped to answer an economic problem, so given that I think we should stay.

Predictions of debt at levels not seen since before the 1960s and severe shortages – do you think these are exaggerations or do you think they’re bang on the mark? 

I think they’re bang on the mark, I think the pound is going to fall even further which is obviously going to damage us in an untold number of ways. I think you will see GDP increase badly, my focus at the moment when working within banks, from a trading perspective, hanging out with the foreign exchange desk and what you now have is a level of indecision around the world in relation to the British pound. Now, that was the core bedrock on which we built our economy, in Britain we didn’t have a strong pound and wanted to stay out of the Euro in order to maintain our currency. For that to be so damaged is horrible, I mean you will have people who argue the opposite, there will be opportunity for, if there goods materials services that we can no longer access fro Europe, there will now be opportunity for those within our country to step up and fill those gaps. I think we will have a short recession, I think we were on the cusp on a recession according to the bank of England the other day, and I don’t think we (the UK) pull ourselves out of recessions well. 

What are your opinions on Boris Johnson? 

I do not believe that he is a clown or a jester, I think that he is a very shrewd man who picks his moments in order to take what he wants. Unfortunately, you are not looking at someone who has the countries best interests are heart, this was definitely a role he wanted for himself so he could write himself into history. 

What do you think about Mark Carney’s recent comment that Companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt? 

I do agree with that, it’s interesting from a business perspective on climate change, I believe that there is more talking than doing. There are very clever ways that you can trade your carbon footprint with other firms and essentially make small strides to becoming cleaner and greener. I don’t think business does enough. As for being ‘punished by investors’ I think its overblown, there is definitely a move towards investing in clean, green climate friendly technology, but at this moment in time there are certain industries that aren’t dying and initiatives moving forwards are greener. I also think that new start up companies should be thinking how can I make the world a better place.

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