Andy jalil - email@example.com - With financial services having largely driven Britain’s economy, the government is attempting to ensure that there will be no shortage of skilful workers in the sector. The Brexit minister David Davis has committed to protecting London’s financial district’s (‘City’) access to talent from the EU and as well as globally after the UK leaves the Union.
Davis has pledged to unveil a new immigration system that secures “the mobility of professionals from the continent.”
The minister has set out his most detailed plan yet of the City’s future relationship with the EU after March 2019 when Britain exits the EU.
He sets out his priorities based on three key points: protecting financial stability, ensuring consumer protection and supporting the system built since the 2008 financial crash.
A major component would be protecting the “mobility of workers and professionals across the continent”, he said. Adding: “Whether this means a bank temporarily moving a worker to an office in Germany, or a lawyer visiting a client in Paris, we believe it is in the interest of both sides to see this continue.”
An immigration bill, which will be introduced next year, “will set out in more detail what this new system will look like”, he said, emphasising that the government had been listening to the sector’s concerns around talent.
“While this (bill) will mean we’re better able to control the numbers of people coming to the UK — it doesn’t mean pulling up the drawbridge. That clearly wouldn’t be in Britain’s interest,” said Davis.
He also hinted that the government was minded to adopt some proposals put forward in the City’s recent blueprint for life after Brexit, produced by former minister Mark Hoban and the International Regulatory Strategy Group.
Davis credited the report as putting forward “some innovating ideas on possible new framework,” particularly around exemption regimes and mutual access on the basis of regulatory alignment.
Davis was unambiguous when it came to banks operating clearing, which he said must remain in London.“This is not a zero-sum game,” he added, noting fragmentation would ramp up costs for financial services firms and connected businesses across the EU.
But he said protecting the City was not just a concern for the UK government, given its importance to European businesses and economies.
Davis said: “For Europe, London is a gateway to global financial markets.
This isn’t just the City of London —it’s the first City of Europe, the primary financial centre for this continent.” City of London Corporation’s policy chief Catherine McGuinness welcomed the sign that the government was listening to the sector’s concerns around Brexit.
But she said: “We now need to see these words turned into action.”
Prime Minister Theresa May also moved to reassure the booming tech sector, telling industry representatives at a Downing Street reception that the government would double the number of visas available for tech experts from outside the EU to 2,000.
May said: “It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector has the full backing of government.” While the announcement was welcomed by tech investment heavyweights Brent Hoberman and Eileen Burbidge, others were less impressed.
Alex Depledge, former chair of tech policy group Coadec, said the move “isn’t going to move the needle.”
Meanwhile, despite extended negotiations between Davis and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, close to half of all company directors still feel unable to plan for the UK’s exit from the EU, according to research released last week. Finance bosses feel the most in the dark about their future.
A survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found 46 per cent of its members do not feel confident about planning for Brexit, a proportion which rises to 57 per cent for those working in the financial sector.
Fewer than one in 10 (eight per cent) of the 900 members surveyed by the IoD said they had already kick-started their contingency plans.
However, just over a fifth (22 per cent) reported they may have to transfer some part of their operations to the EU.
Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the IoD, said: “British companies have huge potential to grow their exports and seize opportunities in new markets across the world, but a smooth Brexit is essential to paving the way towards this goal.”
(The author is our foreign correspondent based in the UK. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)