LONDON (Reuters) – The British Treasury is not trying to undermine Brexit, but focuses on boosting prosperity by promoting close ties with the European Union after the country leaves, the finance minister said on Thursday. Philip Hammond.
Hammond is widely regarded as the most Pro-EU Prime Minister Theresa May senior ministers, and earlier this month Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the Ministry of Finance as "basically the heart of the Resistance."
In an important speech before the London financial services industry, Hammond said that his priority was to preserve existing commercial and commercial relations after Brexit, as well as to seek new agreements for global financial services with non-EU countries.
"That does not make the Treasury, on my watch," the enemy of Brexit ". Rather, it makes it the champion of the prosperity of the British people outside the EU, but working closely with him, "he said in his annual address at Mansion House in the city of London, the largest financial center in Europe.
The event is one of the main pieces of the year for the governor of Hammond and the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who also spoke. It comes a day after May won a vote in parliament on his plans for Brexit, pitting rebels within his ruling Conservative Party, which favor closer ties with the EU.
Britain will leave the EU in March next year, but a transitory trade agreement has not been finalized and there are disagreements among the top team in May about how much effort to put in maintaining close ties with the EU.
MUTUAL RECOGNITION ?
Financial services are one of the thorniest problems faced by Brexit negotiators.
Hammond defended a model he established in March, according to which Britain and the EU would allow cross-border trade in financial services on the condition that each side preserve regulatory standards in line with the best international standards. This model would be maintained through close cooperation between regulators.
But financial executives told Reuters last week that they no longer believed it was realistic in the face of EU skepticism.
Carney said he thought an agreement involving close regulatory cooperation "remains feasible and in the interests of the United Kingdom, Europe and the world."
On the contrary, the starting point of the EU is that Britain has no right to more than the basic "equivalence" access granted to non-EU countries after its departure.
Even a version called & # 39; enhanced & # 39; This seemed unsatisfactory, said Hammond. "Although I've heard about 'improved equivalence', I have not yet seen a credible proposal for what it could mean or a clear articulation of how it might work," he said. "As of today, the most developed model … is the one I established in March."
Hammond said that after Brexit, he wanted London to be the "undisputed portal of the financial markets". and to achieve new global financial alliances, based on new free trade agreements and existing dialogue with countries such as China and India.
In response to Hammond's comments, the CityUK trade body welcomed the steps it announced to boost the training, but said it also wanted easy access for staff from outside of Britain, both before and after the Brexit
Hammond also confirmed that taxpayers would need to "contribute a little more in a fair and balanced way" towards a 20 billion pound ($ 26 billion) boost to the National Health Service announced earlier this week in may.
A & # 39; dividend of Brexit & # 39; After Britain stopped paying EU membership fees it would finance only part of the cost, and the government had no intention of abandoning plans to reduce Britain's public debt, he added. Last year, the government's budget regulator predicted that Brexit would be a net drain for Britain's public finances.
Written by David Milliken, additional report by Andy Bruce and Lawrence White, edition of David Stamp