Theresa May steps up Brexit charm offensive, reassuring City chiefs at Downing Street and Morgan Stanley party

Theresa May joined top bankers to talk Brexit last night (Source: Getty)

Prime Minister Theresa May has been stepping up a City charm offensive in recent weeks, hosting top bankers and asset managers at Downing Street, City A.M. can reveal.

It is understood an hour-long meeting at No 10 in late February was attended by Aberdeen Asset Management boss Martin Gilbert, Schroders’ Peter Harrison, Barclays chief Jes Staley, HSBC chairman Douglas Flint and Allianz vice chair Elizabeth Corley.

It also emerged today that May attended a Morgan Stanley drinks party at the British Museum last night

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Sky News first reported May had used the lavish affair to reassure City figures present, including Morgan Stanley chief executive James Gorman, as well as Gilbert and Flint, she would protect the status of the City of London as she heads to the Brexit negotiating table. She also attempted to calm fears the financial sector would be faced with a cliff-edge.

Speaking at an Association of Investment Companies conference in London today, Gilbert said that, after the meetings, he was “confident she will negotiate really well”.

He said: “She actually does get what is necessary to do the transition arrangements. As you know, what we want – what all of us want, especially the investment banks – one, is a transition arrangement after the two years so we don’t have a cliff-edge.

“And we want grandfathering. So we want grandfathering of contracts or swaps. Those are the two key things.”

Gilbert added: “She definitely gets the EU nationals point as well. She just doesn’t want to concede that until she gets the reciprocal arrangement on the other side. She’s definitely aware of all of these issues.

“She does listen. And the meetings I’ve been at she listens to what financial services require.”

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This is not the first time the Prime Minister has mingled with bankers to discuss Brexit. A few days after she delivered her landmark Brexit speech in January, she jetted to Davos to meet with bank bosses like Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein and JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon.

Those in the City more generally are concerned Brexit will mean the end of the valuable rights they currently enjoy, such as passporting, which is a complex set of rules allowing UK financial firms to do business in the other EEA states and vice versa.

Many firms are now mulling whether they will need to move some of their operations out of London in an effort to keep one foot in the EU following the UK's departure.

Morgan Stanley, which was a major donor to the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign, has recently been reported to be considering moving about 300 of its jobs currently in London to either Dublin or Frankfurt. The bank has since stressed that no final decision has been made.

Meanwhile, HSBC's Flint has previously warned up to 1,000 jobs at his bank will have to be moved out of London to elsewhere in Europe, most likely Paris, to ensure it can continue with business as usual following Brexit.

May is expected to pull the trigger on Article 50, which starts the UK's formal process for leaving the EU, in a matter of days. She has previously given herself a deadline of the end of this month.

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