Catherine McGuinness: “Christmas has come early” with Brexit progress


The Corporation’s policy chief has welcomed European Commission’s announcement that Brexit talks can now move onto the next stage, saying “Christmas has come early for financial firms”.

Prime Minister Theresa May appeared alongside European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at a press conference early on Friday morning to declare “sufficient progress” had been made on their “divorce issues” to begin the negotiations on their future trading relationship.

Key points of the agreement include Britain’s divorce bill – which will be between £35bn and £39bn rather than the anticipated £50bn – and rights for those living in Northern Ireland to retain their EU citizenship.

Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman for the City of London Corporation praised the government for making “a bold but necessary step forward” but warned that “the hard work starts now”.

“The UK’s future trading relationship with the EU will mark one of the most important pieces of legislation in a century – it is vital we get it right first time,” she said.

“An off-the-shelf trade deal, or one that is based on enhanced equivalence, simply won’t cut the mustard.”

Ms McGuinness’ comments come less than 24 hours after she blasted Brexit Secretary David Davis for failing to investigate the impact leaving the EU will have on the UK saying she found it “bewildering” the government have not carried out impact assessment reports for the financial services sector.

Responding to the Phase 2 announcement, Ms McGuinness said the new trading relationship should be based on a free trade agreement with a joint dispute resolution body and mechanisms for mutual market access.

She carved out a vision based on “regulatory alignment between the UK and EU with both parties working together to implement new global and international standards” but said more clarity on the roll-out is “essential” for the success of negotiations.

“It is essential that Government makes clear its aim to implement a transitional deal, clarifying exact timelines of when the transition phase will begin, what rules will apply to the UK in the interim and we need an indication of when the sector can expect to adopt the new rules.”