London financial revolution: EU ‘seeing sense’ as major Brexit agreement nears

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Talks with the bloc had stalled but understands UK ministers have put their foot down and are close to reaching an understanding with Brussels. Financial services were mostly excluded from the Brexit trade deal amid fears EU cities such as Amsterdam could take London’s crown as the centre of the continent for finance.

But an agreement in the form of a memorandum of understanding, allowing banking, insurance and legal advice to be exported to the bloc, is near completion.

Both sides are expected to meet several times a year after the understanding is signed to ensure maximum cooperation.

EU markets would be able to take advantage of the City of London, which is seen as an iconic financial hub across the world.

But Brussels has so far refused to grant equivalence to the UK allowing British companies access to the bloc.

One Whitehall source told the Express: “We are working hard to bring forward a robust agreement.

“The tide seems to be turning and Brussels seems to be seeing sense over the bloc having benefits of accessing the City of London.”

But the pressure is being put on UK Ministers with banks preparing to relocate London bankers to other hubs including Amsterdam and Paris.

Ministers are currently mulling over a review undertaken by Lord Hill and commissioned by the Treasury examining the state of the UK’s financial sector.

It forms part of the Chancellor’s plan to strengthen the UK’s position as a world-leading financial centre.

In the newly published review, the former EU commissioner for financial services urged Ministers to create an annual report on the state of the City establishing its competitive position.

The review also recommends rebranding and repositioning the London Stock Exchange’s standard listing segment to increase its appeal to companies of all sizes and types from across the world.

Lord Hill made clear there was “widespread sense that after a long period linked to Brexit”, the City of London and it’s financial services were on the “back foot”.

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Lord Hill added: “There is now an opportunity for the whole system, including politicians and regulators, to get back to the job of strengthening our standing as one of the world’s leading global financial centres.

“If we want to increase London’s attractiveness as a place to take a company public, then we need to have consistent policies and messages that back that ambition up in a coherent manner.”

A Whitehall source concluded in recent talks the capital would soon be known as “Singapore-on-Thames” in line with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ambition to match Singapore’s economic growth.

They added: “London is a dominating financial centre, we will not lose out to Amsterdam.”

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