Britain is confident that it will “imminently” reach a deal with the European Union on its post-Brexit financial services trade with the bloc, Britain’s financial services minister John Glen said as the negotiations now seem to be struggling to overcome differences over customs, goods trade and Northern Ireland.
Negotiators have worked up a draft text that would go into a declaration on future relations post-Brexit, according to the FT, citing EU diplomats.
“This has gone from being one of the most feared paragraphs [of the declaration] to something that is no longer so daunting to do,” said one EU diplomat handling Brexit.
Britain is looking for an agreement based on an improved version of the EU’s “equivalence” system of financial market access, whereby Brussels allows foreign firms to operate on its turf if their home rules are closely aligned with those in the bloc.
“I am extremely confident we will reach an imminent deal,” Glen told a financial services conference in London. “There is common ground. That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal.”
He further added that the UK government is prioritizing to have the best long-term deal for financial services.
As the negotiations continue to be shrouded in uncertainty, several British business leaders have signed a letter calling for a public vote on the country’s Brexit deal, amid growing concerns that the United Kingdom will exit the European Union in March without an agreement.
The letter, published in the Sunday Times, warns of the severe economic dislocation of “either a blindfold or a destructive Brexit”.
They said the proposals being discussed by the government and the European Commission were “not nearly as good as the current deal we have inside the EU.”
“The uncertainty over the past two years has already led to a slump in investment, which will make our country poorer,” said the letter.
The business leaders to sign the letter include former chief executive of Sainsbury’s Justin King and Lastminute.com co-founder Martha Lane Fox.
Other signatories include Waterstones boss James Daunt, former Marks and Spencer chair Lord Myers and former BT chair Sir Mike Rake.
A group called Business for a People’s Vote will launch on Thursday.