THERESA MAY’S speech on January 17th set Britain definitively on a path to a “hard” Brexit, in which it will leave not just the EU but the European single market. This was not what the City of London wanted to hear. The prime minister did at least pick out finance, along with carmaking, as an industry for which “elements of current single-market arrangements” might remain in place as part of a future trade deal. The City is holding out hope that a bespoke deal built on the existing legal concept of “equivalence” could still accord it a fair degree of access to Europe.
“Passporting”, which allows financial firms in one EU member state automatically to serve customers in the other 27 without setting up local operations, was always going to be difficult after Brexit. Outside the single market, says Damian Carolan of Allen & Overy, a law firm, the “passport as we know it is dead.” Already, two big banks, HSBC and UBS, this week each confirmed plans to move 1,000 jobs from London.
Financial companies all have to firm up their contingency plans. For the City, these focus on so-called “equivalence” provisions, allowing…Continue reading