City steps up pressure on government ahead of Brexit talks

THE CITY’s financial services sector has laid out its demands for Brexit negotiations, as a means to engage with the government to “achieve the best possible deal for both the UK and EU27”.

TheCityUK, a powerful lobby group representing financial institutions, has set out its “key priorities”, which include access to EU staff and markets, clear and upfront transitional arrangements, market infrastructure and regulatory frameworks, and ensuring legal continuity.

EU leaders have repeatedly said that unless the UK accepts the four EU freedoms – the free movement of people, capital, goods and services – by remaining within the EU or paying in like Norway or Switzerland, it will not be able to cherry pick access to certain parts.

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, which represents financial institutions, said: “There is no question that getting Brexit right is a once in a generation challenge. If there is anywhere in the world which has the necessary knowledge and expertise to get this done, it is here in the world’s leading financial and related professional services hub.”

In recent weeks, some banks and financial institutions have been stepping up pressure on the government by making noises about moving thousands of staff and offices out of London to other financial centres around within the EU such as Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt because of concerns that the UK will lose its competitive edge once it leaves the EU single market.

Prime minister Theresa May has said she will trigger Article 50 to begin formal Brexit negotiations by the end of March, which is why the City is setting out its stall now, but no one knows what form those negotiations will take. Brexit talks are expected to last two years.

The financial services sector accounts for 12% of UK economic output and employs nearly 2.2m people. According to TheCityUK report, the sector’s “reach extends far beyond the City of London, with two-thirds of employment outside the capital. Professional services employment outstrips financial services employment. The industry is also an enabler for the rest of the economy, providing financing for businesses and a wide range of products and services to individuals.”

TheCityUK is made up of some of the UK’s most influential people in the financial services industry. Barclays chairman John MacFarlane, Accenture’s MD Sushil Saluja and Anthony Browne, CEO of the British Bankers’ Association all sit on its board.

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