No answer from PM on future of EU 'passporting' for financial services
UK Government stance leaves Scottish financial sector in limbo
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, refused to give Scotland's financial sector any reassurances over retaining crucial 'passporting' rights in the finance sector when the UK leaves the EU under questioning from Deidre Brock MP today. Passporting is the EU agreement that means that Scottish banks and other financial services companies can operate anywhere in the EU.
Despite previous assurances from her Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, that passporting would continue after we leave the EU, Mrs May refused to support him and failed to give any assurances during Prime Minister's Questions that jobs and services in the financial services industries would be considered during the Brexit negotiations.
Ms Brock said
"Today the Prime Minister wouldn't back her Foreign Secretary after he promised that passporting was guaranteed and she still can't tell us whether she wants Scottish companies to be able to keep trading in Europe after Brexit.
"Scotland deserves better than this and we should be getting answers to these very important questions. It's clear that even Theresa May doesn't trust Boris Johnson's promise that it'll be 'steady as she goes' for the finance industry.
"Every day my questions about the process and negotiations for leaving the European Union show that the government really doesn't have a clue what it's doing or should be doing. Every day we learn more about the appalling lack of planning and policy in place for Brexit from the UK Government. The Tories are steering us towards a crash without even having a plan 'A' in place, let alone plan 'B'.
"The implications for Edinburgh's financial sector is deeply worrying – those jobs need access to European markets. We keep hearing from European politicians that there's no access to the single market without freedom movement but it looks like losing jobs and trade is a price the Tories are prepared to pay to get rid of the free movement we currently enjoy.
"We're hurtling towards the European exit door and the brakes on the handcart are not working and we could end up part of the UK set adrift without a clue.
"Theresa May and her Government have got to get their acts together quickly and start laying out some plan for getting a decent deal out of the Brexit negotiations before we find ourselves kicked out and left without anything."
- Boris Johnson's comments on UK financial firms keeping EU 'passporting' rights: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/22/uk-financial-firms-to-keep-eu-passporting-says-boris-johnson/
- Deidre Brock's question and the PM's response below. (Video clip here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/8772c982-a9b9-458b-b4f7-2419ed1d6bf8?in=12:04:30&out=12:05:42 )
Deidre Brock MP: "Last week the Prime Minister couldn't tell us whether she was in favour of staying in the single market; as an Edinburgh MP, can I tell her how important the financial sector is to Scotland's economy. I wonder therefore if she can tell us whether she agrees with her Foreign Secretary that passporting for financial services is guaranteed to continue after the UK leaves the European Union?"
Rt Hon Theresa May MP: "I'm not going to give the Honourable Lady any different answer from the answer that I gave the House on many occasions last week which is that this Government will be working to ensure the right deal for the United Kingdom in trade in goods and services, and that includes listening to the concerns that the Scottish Government may wish to raise with us, that governments in NI and Wales will raise with us as well. We will be fully engaged with the devolved administrations. But I say to the Honourable Lady as I said last week that actually the best thing for the financial sector in Edinburgh, the best thing for the economy of Scotland is to be part of the United Kingdom."