Treasury in listening mode for Brexit negotiations, City minister tells Lords committee

Hayley Kirton
Follow Hayley
City of London skyline
Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously said the Treasury will lead on financial services talks (Source: Getty)

The Treasury is all ears when it comes to Brexit, the City minister has said today.

Speaking in front of the House of Lords EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee, Simon Kirby said his department was "very much in listening mode", adding that "government as a intend on getting the best possible deal for Britain".

However, peers expressed concerns that government departments had not given clear answers on what was going on, especially in light of the expectation for officials to prepare draft negotiating positions by the end of December.

Kirby also dithered when asked whether the Treasury was taking the lead for the financial services sector in the upcoming negotiations, although stressed the efforts were cross-government. He finally confirmed, after been asked several times, the Treasury would be leading and coordinating the Brexit efforts for financial services.

"The Treasury, Number 10, all the other departments, are there to get the best possible deal," he said.

Speaking at a recent conference, Kirby moved to reassure the financial services sector that their needs would be taken seriously during the Brexit negotiations, and urged those in the industry to make their requirements known.

But other parts of government have not appeared so supportive of what the City needs. City A.M. revealed yesterday that a number of key industry figures were becoming increasingly frustrated at the way they were being treated by the Brexit department and the Department for International Trade.

Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports as to how supportive Prime Minister Theresa May is towards the sector, with some concerns being raised that she is not even willing to provide financial firms with a much wanted transition period, which would allow them time to get their house in order before the new post-Brexit regime comes into force.

Earlier this month, a report from TheCityUK found a so-called hard Brexit could result in up to 75,000 job losses, along with as much as £38bn in lost revenue.

Kirby also reminded the Lords' sub-committee that the financial services sector accounted for around seven per cent of UK GDP and employed roughly 1m people.

"This is an important part of our economy," he noted.

Related articles