Lord Robin Butler has declared there is “grounds for optimism” for the City
Lord Robin Butler has declared there is “grounds for optimism” for the City and London’s financial services, in stark contrast to the gloomy position just a few months ago.
The former head of the British civil service said it was in the EU’s best interest to let the capital have smooth access to its markets.
The ex-Whitehall chief has changed his tune from December, when he contributed to a House of Lords committee report on Brexit and financial services, painting a bleak picture of the future.
But he has now admitted he was “too pessimistic” and may have jumped to conclusions.
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Citing recent findings by the European Parliament’s committee on economic and monetary affairs, he declared it was in the best interests of Europe and businesses on the continent to allow UK firms to operate on the continent.
The peer said it was crucial for EU companies to maintain passporting rights for UK firms, and reciprocal arrangements that allow British businesses to operate without regulatory oversight and barriers within the bloc.
He said a quick deal with the EU would be the most prosperous
He said during a House of Lords debate: “The EU partners have an interest in not using them in a vindictive manner.
“It’s relevant that while 5,500 UK firms benefit from passports for trading financial services in the EU, more than 8,000 EU firms benefit from passports for trading into the UK.”
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He contributed to a House of Lords committee report on Brexit and financial services
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And he backed prime minster Theresa May’s ‘transitional’ vision for the future, allowing the UK to ease itself out of the bloc and time to finalise trade deals and arrangements with the EU.
Lord Butler praised that direction, saying it was preferable to the “cliff-edge” alternative.
We will have a mutual interest in keeping close to each other
Lord Robin Butler
But he said a quick deal would be the most prosperous, adding: “a rapid agreement respecting the mutual interests of both sides”.
In a veiled dig at Brussels, he urged “harmony” during the process in order to wrap up a swift deal.
He has now admitted he was “too pessimistic” and may have jumped to conclusions
He added: “This may involve conforming with regimes and requirements which we will have no formal role in formulating.
“But it does mean we will have a mutual interest in keeping close to each other.”
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