London Lobbyists Bring Brexit Concerns to U.K. Conference

At the Liberal Democrats conference Monday, the City of London Corp. will underscore the urgent need for a transition agreement with the E.U.


City of London representatives are taking their lobbying efforts to the first of three political-party conferences in Britain over the next few weeks, leading a session at the Liberal Democrats event in Bournemouth, U.K. to discuss the country’s divorce from the European Union.

The Social Market Foundation and the City of London Corp. will host conference delegates at a fringe meeting Monday called, “What is the future for the City after Brexit?” The event is part of the city’s sustained campaign stressing the importance of a transition deal for financial services when Britain leaves the E.U. in March 2019.

There’s an urgent need for clarity on any transition arrangement to retain existing regulations, laws and cross-border access to the European market, according to Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman for the City of London Corp.

“We will be engaging at all of the party conferences,” she said. “We need an agreement on transition as soon as possible. For the investment management industry, it is particularly relevant.”

The Labour Party conference begins in Brighton on September 24, and the Conservative Party event starts in Manchester on October 1.

European cities have been vying to win financial talent leaving London due to Brexit. While the annual Z/Yen Global Financial Centres Index report last week ranked England’s capital as the world’s top financial hub, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Geneva, Paris and Dublin all gained ground on the previous year.

“The financial and professional services sector generates taxes which benefits the U.K.,” said McGuinness. “It is a major export sector. It is also needed to fund the industrial strategy.”

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund was created to support businesses and researchers in Britain, according to the U.K. government’s website. The government says on the website that it’s planning a £4.7 billion ($6.4 billion) increase in research and development over the next four years.

McGuinness’s comments follow a September 13 address by U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond at the annual U.K. Finance dinner at Mansion House, where he too expressed a desire for a deal retaining access for financial services provided between markets in the U.K. and E.U.

A key event to watch will be the European Council meeting on October 19 and 20, where the heads of state from the 27 countries in the E.U. will meet with Michel Barnier, the region’s chief negotiator, according to Robert van Geffen, policy team director at the Association for Financial Markets in Europe.

“Barnier will discuss with the heads of state whether enough progress has been made in the phase one of the negotiations. He can then make a recommendation as to where to proceed to phase two,” said van Geffen. “If the decision in October is that there hasn’t been enough progress, we will be looking to the December meeting for a decision on that.”