Brexit Explained by Tidjane Thiam

Thiam, Brexit, education

Tidjane Thiam, Credit Suisse chief executive

The poor state of the British education system reminds him of conditions his country of origin, Ivory Coast, said Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam. Disillusionment with inequality is what lies behind Brexit, he argued.

The United Kingdom is now paying the price for the high level of inequality and a chronic lack of investment in education, Tidjane Thiam said. This induced the majority of the British population on June 23 to vote to leave the European Union, Thiam told a business conference in the south of France, «Reuters» reported.

The former head of British insurer Prudential lived in London for 15 years, until his move to Credit Suisse in July 2015. On a visit to a school in Tower Hamlets, a residential area near the city’s financial district, he was shocked to discover that about half of the children ate only one meal per day.

Conditions like in the Ivory Coast

«That’s something I had seen in Ivory Coast,» the former member of the Ivorian government said. In political remarks that are likely to raise eyebrows among Credit Suisse's thousands of U.K. employees, Thiam observed that people with a low education level were more likely to support Brexit.

«Something must be done at the national level so there aren’t so many people left behind that the result of a national, democratic vote gives a result which is bad for the country in the medium term.»

More Tax Solidarity

One means to achieve this is by reforming the British tax system, the Credit Suisse boss said. This must be structured in a more redistributive way, Thiam said, even if that meant raising taxes.

However, this will be a difficult undertaking because no-one wants to have to introduce higher taxes, Thiam said.

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