The Prime Minister’s speech today gave a bit more clarity about the Government’s Brexit strategy. Clarity, as in the words of the Prime Minister herself, is important “to provide business, the public sector, and everybody with as much certainty as possible as we move through the process.”
Access to the single market
The Prime Minister’s ambition to retain the greatest possible access to the Single Market, which is important to the UK’s financial and professional services industries, is a positive step. Protecting these vital industries should be a priority for the Government, and the Corporation should keep the pressure up to get the best deal possible .
Avoid a cliff-edge
In her speech the Prime Minister speaks of the need for a “phased process of implementation” after Brexit to give businesses enough time to plan and prepare for new arrangements. She specifically mentions a future legal and regulatory framework for financial services. Indeed we should avoid a disruptive cliff-edge at all costs and the Corporation needs to ensure such a transitional agreement is announced as soon as possible.
Access to talent
As Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation has pointed out, Britain has long been a magnet for global talent. To continue the sector’s success, with 12% of City workers made up of European staff, it is important the flow of leading talent to the UK continues. The rights of EU citizens currently working in the UK should be protected. I know personally how unsettling the current uncertainty is. EU nationals living in the UK, and British citizens living in other member states, should not be treated as bargaining chips. Businesses need certainty and so do individuals and families.
Protecting existing rights
The Prime Minister has pledged that as the Government translates the body of European law into our domestic regulations, they will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained. The Corporation should hold her to this promise. I also would like to see the Government make the same promise to protect, for example, gender equality. Important rights such as maternity/paternity leave and anti-discrimination rules should not be weakened post-Brexit.
Trade between the UK and the European Union has helped make our country prosperous. It is important that the Government recognises the value and importance of EU companies seeking access to the services of the City of London.
But we should also welcome the decision to trade more with existing and new international partners – this presents positive opportunities following the decision in the referendum to leave the EU.