Skip to main content

Financial Services Sector

Volume 657: debated on Thursday 4 April 2019

19. What recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on the financial services sector of the UK leaving the EU. (910231)

As part of the political declaration, the Government have negotiated an agreement on the future relationship for financial services that would be of greater depth than any other the EU has with a third country, while enabling our financial services sector to take up the global opportunities on offer.

Is the Secretary of State aware of the latest Reuters Brexit city tracker index, which revealed that no less than 7.6 million square feet of new leases were signed in the City of London last year, which is a record? The market is currently within 5% of its record high. Fewer than 2,000, or 0.5%, of City jobs have either relocated or been substituted elsewhere on the continent. When is this Armageddon because of Brexit going to happen?

As a former City Minister, I take a close interest in these issues. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw the House’s attention to some of the developments we have seen in recent months in the City. The City has opportunities in growth areas of finance. Green finance is a key opportunity, for example, and FinTech is another. There are very good opportunities for the City in a post-Brexit world.

There seems to be some confusion about customs unions. Can my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State confirm that a customs union would not cover how we regulate our financial services, how we fish, how we farm or freedom of movement? It should be perfectly possible to discuss a customs union without using any F-words.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. There is one tweak around fishing and fish, but other than that I absolutely agree with her. I remind the House that financial services alone contribute, from memory, around £71 billion in tax to the UK economy. With an economy that is 80% services, there is an opportunity post Brexit for us to take a more bespoke approach that will enable us to maximise the opportunities on offer.