City Corporation takes Brexit plight to House of Commons

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POLICY chairman Catherine McGuinness has taken the City’s Brexit plight to the House of Commons.

Giving evidence to the exiting the European Union select committee, Ms McGuinness demanded “urgent action” as the Square Mile toils with uncertainty brought about by government’s Brexit white paper, published earlier this month.

The document proposes a stronger partnership with the EU on goods over services, which make up 80% of the UK economy, and was described as a “real blow” to the financial and professional services sector.

And now the Corporation has highlighted the pressing need to finalise the Withdrawal Agreement, ratify the planned transition period, and tackle cliff edge issues such as contract continuity as the deadline for leaving the EU approaches.

“With fewer than 250 days to go until we leave the EU, the clock is ticking ever more quickly for firms and their staff preparing for life after Brexit,” said Ms McGuinness.

“The UK financial services and professional services sector looks forward to increased pace from the government – and their EU counterparts – so that they can plan for the future with confidence.”

She went on to say that it is in “our shared interests” to prevent unnecessary trade barriers being put up between the UK and EU.

The fear is that restrictions will lead to a City of London exodus, with some major names already relocating some aspects of their operation to rival European cities.

One suggestion put forward was for government to consider putting in place unilateral measures to ensure business can continue irrespective of the agreement with the EU.

“The Brexit white paper set out some high-level proposals for tackling the failings of the existing third country equivalence regime,” added Ms McGuinness.

“We now need greater detail and engagement from both sides to improve equivalence by broadening its scope and providing a firmer foundation for businesses than one where it can be withdrawn unilaterally at 30 days’ notice.

“Getting this right matters to millions of consumers and businesses on both sides of the Channel. We stand ready to work with the government and the City to deliver a pragmatic way forward.”