Hammond: UK could reject any Brexit deal excluding financial services

Philip Hammond has put Britain on a fresh collision course with Brussels after he warned the government could reject any trade deal not including financial services.

Speaking in Canary Wharf at the headquarters of HSBC on Wednesday afternoon, the chancellor said a trade deal would only happen if it balanced the interests of both the UK and the EU.

“It’s hard to see any deal that did not include financial services can look like a fair and balanced deal,” he said.

The latest speech from a senior member of Theresa May’s cabinet will move talks with Brussels to yet another impasse, after the EU council president Donald Tusk warned earlier on Wednesday that the UK would not be allowed to “cherry pick” what it liked in trade talks.

Tusk suggested a Canada-style free trade deal was the only one on the cards, which would be likely not to include comprehensive coverage of services. It also puts him in direct opposition to his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, who warned on Tuesday that financial services would not form part of a trade deal.

“We don’t believe that financial services can be part of an FTA [free trade agreement],” Le Maire said in a speech in London.

Hammond’s speech will be seen as a rebuke to the EU’s negotiating position, while he also escalated tensions by warning European countries that any attempts to take finance industry business from London would backfire. Instead, he said it was time to “address the sceptics who say a trade deal including financial services cannot be done because it has never been done before”.

Responding to Tusk’s comments, the chancellor said it wasn’t surprising that the EU had established a “very tough position” against the UK proposal to include financial services in a free trade deal. “That’s what any skilled and competent negotiator would do,” he said.

“This is not a zero-sum game, where any loss of market share in London is automatically a gain to another EU capital … The real beneficiaries are more likely to be New York, Singapore and Hong Kong,” he said.



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