Davos: May has not ruled out paying for EU access for City of London

PM needs to preserve the City as it underpins the British economy

British prime minister Theresa May has not ruled out paying for access to the European Union's single market to retain the City of London's position as a global financial centre.

In a Bloomberg interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mrs May said she was “very clear that we want to develop a deep and special partnership, a comprehensive trade agreement”.

"Obviously we recognise the importance of the financial services and we want to ensure that we can continue to see those financial services, ensuring the City of London retains its role as a global financial centre," she said.

France’s Emmanuel Macron suggested over the weekend that a deal could cover aspects of financial services - at a price that is both political and financial. Meanwhile, key countries like Italy say it would “totally unrealistic” for financial services to be excluded from a final agreement. While so-called passporting rights are out of the equation, the rest is open to negotiation.


Free-trade pact

EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said that a Brexit deal similar to the free-trade pact struck with Canada is the most likely scenario for Britain once it leaves. That deal opens up services such as banking only to a limited extent.

Mrs May appeared confident that something could be worked out.

She needs to preserve the City as it underpins the British economy, while also satisfying pro-Brexit campaigners who prioritise sovereignty and withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

Mrs May declined to be drawn into whether the reach of the ECJ was a negotiating chip. “What I see, talking to other leaders, is that sense we would be pragmatic about this and because it’s to the benefit of the EU as well as the UK that we have that good arrangement in future,” she said. - Bloomberg