- City of London bosses have urged the UK government to tread carefully after it promised sweeping post-Brexit deregulation, arguing that the focus instead should be on creating new flexible rules to support growing areas of the economy.
- Chancellor Rishi Sunak said last week that the City could expect something akin to a “Big Bang 2.0” — harking back to the Thatcherite deregulation of the financial services industry. The chancellor’s promise came after prime minister Boris Johnson asked 250 executives for ideas to cut regulatory and legislative burdens.
- The government is also considering a post-Brexit overhaul of UK labour markets.
- The FT’s City Network — which brings together more than 50 of the City’s top figures in finance and policymaking — told the FT it was focusing on areas including tax and pensions reform, access to skilled workers, regulations to encourage growth of industries such as green finance, life sciences and fintech as well as support for changes to the UK’s listing regime.
- But business chiefs say there is little need for wholesale deregulation in the UK. Anne Richards, chief executive of Fidelity International, said the government should focus on “re-regulation” — reshaping regulation in response to the post-pandemic environment — rather than deregulation, “with the aim of creating a financial universe fit for the 21st century”.
- “The UK did a superb job of getting its voice heard on the regulatory debate in the EU,” said Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, which represents financial services companies. “As such, it’s not a surprise that the UK industry is broadly content with the regulation that we’ve just onshored — the UK was, after all, the main architect.”
- The call for ideas by Mr Johnson was taken by many as a sign of thawing relations between business leaders and Downing Street. One senior banking executive said it had been great to hear such “upbeat and gung-ho” talk from ministers after feeling excluded from policymaking because of the opposition of many in the City to Brexit. The prime minister has convened a new business council with some of the UK’s largest companies that will meet quarterly, starting today. Kwasi Kwarteng, who was appointed business secretary this month, has promised to work closely with businesses. “I definitely sense a change in tone. We are seeing better traction,” said the banker. But he added: “What does it mean in practice? Instead of looking backwards, we need to look forwards.”
Brexit on Amazon
- More than 20 shellfish trucks parked on roads near the British parliament and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street residence on Monday to protest against post-Brexit bureaucracy that has throttled exports to the European Union. Many fishermen have been unable to export to the EU since catch certificates, health checks and customs declarations were introduced at the start of this year, delaying their deliveries and prompting European buyers to reject them.
- Trucks with slogans such as “Brexit carnage” and “incompetent government destroying shellfish industry” parked metres from Johnson’s 10 Downing Street office in central London. Police were asking the truck drivers for details.
- “We strongly feel the system could potentially collapse,” said Gary Hodgson, a director of Venture Seafoods, which exports live and processed crabs and lobsters to the EU. “Prime Minister Boris Johnson needs to be honest with us, with himself and with the British public about the problems for the industry,” he told Reuters. One operator, he said, needed 400 pages of export documentation last week to enter Europe.
- David Rosie at DR Collin & Son, which employs 200 people, used to send one or two trucks a night to France carrying live crab, lobster and langoustine worth around 150,000 pounds ($203,000). He said he had not exported a single box this year. Fishermen, he said, “lost their livelihoods in the turn of a clock” when Britain left the EU’s orbit on New Year’s Eve.
- Using a phrase that has angered many business owners, Johnson described the changes as “teething problems”, and said they had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson said an additional 23 million pound ($31.24 million) fund had been created to compensate businesses that “through no fault of their own have experienced bureaucratic delays, difficulties getting their goods through where there is a genuine buyer on the other side of the channel”.
See also a similar article by the BBC.