Watch out Ursula! London finance boss lets fly at EU ahead of crunch Brexit showdown

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Catherine McGuinness is chair of policy at the City of London Corporation, the local authority for the finance district. She has predicted the City’s finance industry will continue to thrive in the years ahead.

She said: “We’ve got to take our destiny into our own hands, we’ve got to look at the best way forward to the future and what I’d say to the rest of the world is don’t underestimate the UK.”

Ms McGuinness’s comments come as Brussels looks to try and use Brexit to force more firms to relocate from Britain to the continent.

The EU is yet to grant so-called “equivalence” – the process of admitting a country’s rules and regulations are similar to the Brussels’ own – to UK financial firms.

The trade bloc is expected to only grant equivalence in a limited number of areas which benefit the EU in the hope of driving more firms abroad.


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This week talks between the UK and EU on financial services begin.

Both sides are hoping to secure a memorandum of understanding by March.

The document issued will outline how London and Brussels expect to cooperate on future regulation to ensure firms in both territories can continue to work across borders.

Lord Frost, who led the negotiations for the UK during trade talks last year, is not expected to be involved this time around.

While still unconfirmed, Treasury Minister John Glen is set to represent Britain.

Ms McGuinness said financial services had not received the support they needed during trade deal negotiations and has called on the Government to give them “more of the focus as we go forward”.

She told City AM: “Particularly in the last few months, we’ve had this sense that fish and other parts of the economy that are really tiny in comparison have captured much more of the imagination than this really major part of the economy,” McGuinness said.

“There may have been an assumption that the big firms could look after themselves.

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“Yes they can, but it means moving some of their business so it’s not necessarily a good thing from our perspective.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted himself the free trade deal agreed last year “perhaps does not go as far as we would like” on financial services.

The sector makes up almost seven percent of UK GDP and brings in over £130billion to Britain’s economy each year.

On Monday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said Brexit would boost the City of London on the world stage and “reinforce the UK’s position as a globally pre-eminent financial centre”.

Mr Sunak said leaving the EU was a chance to replicate the success of the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher’s deregulation agenda helped financial services prosper.

He hailed Brexit as the chance for the “Big Bang 2.0”.

The Chancellor added: “If you look at the history of the City stretching even further back than that, it has always constantly innovated, adapted and evolved to changing circumstances and thrived and prospered as a result.

“And I think it will continue to do that.”

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