Last week we saw one of the worst post-war tragedies to hit London, and my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington.
The annual Mansion House bankers’ dinner was cancelled as a mark of respect, and the City of London Corporation has sent staff and resources to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to support in any way we can.
We hope the public enquiry will reveal the true and full reality of this appalling situation and help provide some answers and closure for family and friends of the victims.
The terrible events in North Kensington make us more mindful than ever of our responsibilities to fund and support our critical public services – first-class firefighters, police and medical staff.
That is why we in the City are committed to securing the best possible deal for Britain, and protect those industries which contribute so much to the public purse.
As the Brexit negotiations commence in Brussels today, we must all pull together and be a voice for businesses and the millions they support in order to forge a successful trading relationship with the EU and all our global partners.
There are a wide range of issues on the table – from aviation, to the trade in goods, to safety regulations. However, I believe strongly that the most important matter for rapid resolution is the ability for capital and investments to flow throughout Europe as easily as they do today.
London is Europe’s and the world’s leading financial centre and provides effective access to global capital markets and investment to European businesses. Closing this gateway will have serious financial impacts for communities here in the UK and across the EU27.
One thing to be settled upfront is the status of Europeans already living and working here in the UK. Citizens of European countries currently make up 12 per cent of the City’s workforce.
This global City benefits from their expertise and knowledge. Guaranteeing their rights here in London should be top of the agenda when David Davis meets with Michel Barnier.
It is in everyone’s interests that UK financial services remain strong and competitive. This sector’s voice must be heard in order to create jobs and growth across our nation and the EU27, and to protect the 2.2m strong workforce along with all those with whom they work.
For the firms I represent, a deal is vital. To be clear, this means securing the greatest possible access to the Single Market. We need a bespoke agreement with the EU for reciprocal market access, based on the principle of mutual-recognition. We also need an early and orderly transition period.
If the last months are anything to go by, we can expect a rollercoaster of reports and leaks. The City must stay strong and united in championing business interests across the UK.
Last week’s fire put many things in perspective. We place enormous faith in our authorities to make wise choices for our communities. We owe it to the most vulnerable members of our society to ensure we make a success of Brexit and not risk our economic stability on which millions of people depend.