Wednesday 30 December 2020 11:30 am

Theresa May slams Brexit trade deal for not including financial services

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has slammed Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal for not including provisions on financial services.

May told MPs today that her failed deal was “a better deal” than the Prime Minister’s and said she was “disappointed” his trade agreement does not have a wide-ranging services agreement.

MPs will vote at around 2.30pm today on the UK-EU trade deal, with the legislation set to sail through both houses of parliament in a 12-hour timeframe.

This deal will come into place on 1 January as the UK leaves the EU’s customs union and single market.

The deal does not include an EU-wide arrangement for services, with UK firms instead having to negotiate a patchwork of individual EU nations’ regulations.

This has forced major UK-based banks to move assets and jobs to EU financial capitals to avoid disruption.

May said that not getting a post-Brexit financial services agreement was a massive blow to the UK economy.

Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data

“In 2018 in Mansion house, I said that we wanted to work to get a financial services deal in the future treaty arrangement and that it would be truly groundbreaking,” she said.

“It would have been, but sadly it has not been achieved. We have a deal in trade which benefits the EU, but not a deal in services that would have benefited the UK.

“The arrangement treaty is clear that future negotiation on these points is possible and I hope the government will go to the negotiations with alacrity and vigour, particularly on financial services.”

The only way the UK financial services industry can maintain its current EU access is if Brussels grants regulatory equivalence.

This is a classification that will only be given if Brussels deems that the UK will stay roughly within the EU’s regulatory orbit for financial services.

Last week’s post-Brexit trade deal outlined plans to set up a dialogue between the UK and EU to discuss a potential equivalence deal, with March set as a rough deadline.

A senior member of the UK’s Brexit negotiating team said yesterday that progress could be made in this area within the coming few months.

“The best thing is if we understand each other and understand what underpins equivalence decisions when they’re going to be taken,” they said.

“We believe its a meaningful commitment and we expect it to move forward quite quickly.”