Hunt’s post-Brexit deal with EU branded ‘yet another British capitulation’
UK and EU Sign Memo for Post-Brexit Finance Regulation
Jeremy Hunt’s deal with the European Union on financial services amounts to “yet another British capitulation”, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has said.
The Chancellor was in the Belgian capital yesterday for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which will see greater cooperation between officials from the EU and the Treasury, hailing it as an “important turning point”.
Mr Hunt, speaking alongside Mairead McGuinness, the EU’s financial services commissioner, said that agreement would boost the UK and London’s role as a hub of financial services around the world.
However, the bloc was quick to stress the deal would not restore access to the single market or prejudge decisions on equivalence, whereby one side recognises the other’s regulations.
Mr Habib, in an op-ed written for Express.co.uk, questioned the need for such an agreement in the first place.
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He said: “Our financial services sector left without one and thrived.
“Now Sunak and Hunt are intent on dragging London down.”
Deals with the bloc had “never been good for British interests”, argued Mr Habib, who is the founder and CEO of First Property Group plc.
He explained: “While a member of the EU, Brussels was forever passing new regulations which damaged the City.
“It eyed London as a threat, not an asset, preferring to attack it and promote Frankfurt and Paris.”
The only reason financial services were included in the trade deal signed by then-PM Boris Johnson in 2021 was that the EU believed it could freeze Britain out of European financial services markets and “eventually deal it a death blow”, Mr Habib argued.
He continued: “Remember Project Fear’s claim that the City would lose 75,000 jobs if we voted to leave? Well, Remainers were wrong. Since 2016, nearly 100,000 jobs have been added, half of those since we actually left the EU in 2020.
“The City could have been even better if we had used the last few years to bin the regulations piled on it while we were members of the EU.
“Hunt has just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the EU which will all but end reform of financial services in the UK.
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“The MoU sets up a forum through which to collaborate with the EU on, amongst other things, the ‘prevention of regulatory arbitrage’ and the ‘compatibility of standards’.
“In other words, he has undertaken not to do anything which would give the United Kingdom a competitive edge. In those few words he has buried what should have been a huge Brexit benefit.”
Neither had Mr Hunt secured anything in return for “these huge concessions”, Mr Habib insisted.
He said: “There is NO commitment, for example, by the EU to recognise our financial services regime as equivalent to theirs so we may trade in Europe.
“London is undermined by this MoU and Frankfurt and Paris are protected.
“It is yet another British capitulation.”
There was no sensible explanation for Hunt’s “folly”, Mr Habib argued, suggesting he and Mr Sunak were “simply ideologically set against an independent United Kingdom”.
He added: “They promised to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol; in fact, they threw Northern Ireland under a bus with the Windsor Framework.
“They promised to rip up more than 4,000 EU regulations on our statute books with the Retained EU Law Bill; in fact, they will get rid of close to none.
“They promised to liberate our financial services sector with the Edinburgh Reforms; in fact, they will align us with the EU.”
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