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26 June 2016

Chris Grayling: We will make an orderly exit to ensure the City’s future

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This is a process of divorce where things are best approached calmly, writes the Leader of the House of Commons on the Financial Times.

[...] We need to get beyond the initial rhetoric, here and elsewhere in the EU. This has been a momentous development. [...] Britain is still governed by the Conservative party and a team of Conservative ministers — not by UKIP. There will be a calm, measured process. We will take whatever steps are necessary to look after the British national interest. None of those in the frame to succeed David Cameron would take us away from being a liberal, one-nation government, with an internationalist view and a determination to be a strong global player. [...]

The process now has to be careful and thoughtful. We would never have triggered Article 50, the formal exit clause from the EU, on day one. We need time to prepare, to set our own objectives and to put the right expertise in place to support our negotiations. Our European partners also need time. Calls from EU institutions for immediate action are misplaced. They have as much to lose from getting this wrong. On Friday the biggest market falls were not in London, but elsewhere in Europe. This is a process of divorce where things are best approached calmly and methodically.

So Article 50 will not be triggered until a considerable amount of informal preparatory work has been done, here and in discussions with EU partners. The formal process will also have to wait for the new prime minister to be in place in the autumn, and for him or her to get their new team and strategy ready.

It is a process that will not just involve politicians. We will ensure that the business and financial communities have a big say in shaping the best strategy. City UK, the lobby group, has already started work on this, and securing the future of the City must be a priority. The advantages of language, a respected legal system, time zones, depth of experience and access to large, well ordered pools of capital are all more important than EU membership. It is still inconceivable that we could leave the French agricultural sector with free and easy access to UK consumers while allowing the City to be emasculated by Paris or Frankfurt.

Our new trade negotiations with the EU do not require a lengthy process like that between Canada and the bloc. Our businesses already meet the same standards. We have regulatory equivalence, so trade decisions will be political not technical — and already wiser heads in the EU are saying they want continuity, given the scale of their trade surpluses with the UK.

Meanwhile, we must start early discussions on free trade deals elsewhere. Commonwealth countries have already expressed an interest. On Capitol Hill senior trade figures dismiss President Obama’s “back of the queue” comment, telling me that with efforts to reach a transatlantic US-EU trade deal stalled, they think America and Britain could reach a bilateral agreement quickly. [...]

Full article on Financial Times (subscription required)

© Financial Times

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