Prime Minister Theresa May today warned against “needless” trade barriers between the City and the EU after Brexit.
Pointing to benefits for consumers throughout Europe to open financial markets, May offered a conciliatory message emphasising the need for co-operation, with no mention of a “no deal” option.
She said: “It is in neither the EU's nor the UK's interest to see these financial services markets fragment.”
May announced in January that the UK will leave the EU's Single Market, meaning City firms will no longer be able to trade as freely with countries in the European continent without a new free-trade deal.
Today, speaking at a conference marking 20 years of independence for the Bank of England, May called for a “new framework” for trade between the UK and the EU.
City lobby groups have banded together, under the banner of the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG), to produce a plan for a broad-ranging free-trade agreement which would provide mutual access for financial services firms in the UK and the EU.
May pledged to work with the financial services sector, emphasising the UK's need to continue a “thriving financial services sector, providing high-quality jobs right across the United Kingdom.”
Echoing the IRSG report, May also said she was “confident” a deal could be reached because of the common starting point of regulations in the UK and the EU.
She said: “The challenge then is not how to bring our rules and regulations closer together, but what to do when one of us wants to make changes.”
“That fact should give us confidence,” she added.
Meanwhile, May added signs of protectionism were on the rise as she doubled down on strong criticisms of US manufacturing giant Boeing for its part in punitive trade tariffs imposed on its Canadian rival Bombardier.
The 219 per cent tariff, announced by the US Commerce Department, threatens thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.
May said: “We have a long-term partnership with Boeing in various aspects of government, and this is not the sort of behaviour we expect from a long-term partner.
“It undermines that partnership,” she added.
The US Commerce Department announced it will impose the tariff on the C-Series jet manufactured by Bombardier this week, after US-based Boeing complained that Bombardier had received unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada.
May said she and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will continue to “work together to impress on the American government the importance of Bombardier to Northern Ireland.” She also added she had spoken yesterday with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill.
The move by the US, Britain's second-largest trade partner, is a worrying sign of beggar-thy-neighbour policies, May said.
“I think there is a real challenge for us globally today because there are aspects of protectionism creeping in around the world,” she said.