The tough stance adopted by Brussels negotiators over the U.K.’s financial services industry does not make sense according to a former U.K. trade minister.
In September, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said there could be no “a la carte access” to the internal market when Britain leaves the European Union (EU) in March 2019.
Subsequently, a suggestion was made that a special immigration regime for workers within the City of London’s financial services industry could be employed after Brexit, allowing them to continue to work across Europe easily, but the EU has again been cool on exemptions.
The U.K. is keen to protect its lucrative financial services industry and to maintain access to European markets but that outcome is far from certain.
Lord Francis Maude, former U.K. trade minister and now a senior advisor at law firm Covington, told CNBC Thursday that the situation for financial services was complicated and deserved specific attention.
“The EU has said for a long time that the U.K. cannot expect a bespoke deal. That is manifestly absurd. Every single trade deal that the EU has done with a third country has been a bespoke deal.”
“So to say to the UK, which starts from a position of being able to comply with the single market, that you have got to pick from one of the agreements that are already on the shelf is simply nonsense,” Maude added.
The former trade minister said he accepted that Brexit would mean a loss of some jobs for the City of London but separate opportunities would also arise.