From Article 50 to interest rates, 2017 has been a year of firsts for the Square Mile

Catherine McGuinness
Triggering Article 50 - City Of London
2017 cemented the fact that the UK would indeed walk away from a relationship that had spanned more than 40 years (Source: Getty)

Earlier this year, I became the policy chairman of the City of London Corporation.

And what an interesting time it was to take up the post, with the UK having voted to leave the European Union the summer before.

As this is my last column for 2017, it’s a good opportunity to take stock on what has been a busy time, and assess what major events have shaped my first few months as policy chairman.

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Almost one month to the day after being elected, the capital was hit with a terror attack on London Bridge, killing eight people in the Bridge and Borough Market area.

A mere two weeks before, a terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester claimed the lives of 22 victims.

Just a few weeks after that, one of the biggest tragedies, the Grenfell blaze, killed more than 70 people.

In the space of weeks, our country had witnessed the most terrible series of events in years. At a time of great sorrow, however, our nation showed resilience and strength.

Throughout the year, I have been privileged to travel to other major financial centres.

Just this weekend, I was on a delegation to China with the chancellor Philip Hammond, attending the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue. London is the largest offshore renminbi centre outside China, and has more than 30 Chinese financial institutions now based in the Square Mile.

We’ve also seen record investment from the far east in London. I am confident that 2018 will again be another shining year for UK-China ties in this golden era of relations.

Before going to Asia, I met a series of high-level representatives on a visit to New York and Washington.

There was a clear change in tone from my visit there six months earlier. Whereas before Brexit was seen by the US as an inconvenience, on my most recent visit I heard a real sense of concern that progress wasn’t being made quick enough.

The special relationship that the UK shares with our friend across the pond is an important one – one which both sides have a vested interest in maintaining.

And 2017 was also a year for firsts. We saw our central bank raise rates for the first time in a decade – the last time rates rose was pre-crash in July 2007 – the initial impacts of which are still being felt on the health of the economy.

It saw the triggering of Article 50. It cemented the fact that the UK would indeed walk away from a relationship that had spanned more than 40 years, becoming the first country ever to leave the bloc.

Brexit is complex, emotionally and politically. and it is important that we approach negotiations with pragmatism. The next 12 months will shape the future of our nation for years to come. It will take time and care to forge our new relationship with the EU.

But with its fundamental strengths, London will undoubtedly remain a leading financial hub.

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City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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