Brexit: Preparations and Negotiations - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:16 pm on 23rd July 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Kramer Baroness Kramer Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Treasury and Economy) 4:16 pm, 23rd July 2018

My Lords, the White Paper is in tatters, the country is riven and, frankly I fear that we face a no-deal Brexit. I can see no sensible way forward other than a people’s vote. I say this after getting reinforcement for that view from an unexpected quarter: namely, a series of conversations with leaders in the financial services sector, who are quite frankly in shock. Most will not put their heads above the parapet, which I really regret at this stage, when I think it would be very helpful and important—but I understand their reluctance to scare investors, customers and employees.

My noble friend Lord Newby quoted the key statement in the White Paper, which is that,

“the UK and the EU will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets”.

How can a Government wilfully draw red lines which hurt our primary industry in its primary non-domestic market—indeed, a market that accounts for roughly one-third of the total financial services sector? I discussed with the City a year ago the benefits that financial services bring to the UK: £76 billion a year in taxes—think what that delivers in terms of the public sector—and some 2 million jobs. The City told me: “We have been abandoned by May. We are not a popular industry and they will not go in to bat for us”. I wrote down that quote. The required battle is frankly not with the EU—because the financial services sector is very satisfied with the current arrangement and, if it could get a single market in financial services, that would answer so many of its difficulties. The battle, frankly, is with the Brexiteers.

I find when I talk to Brexiteers that they live in a world of delusion, where something called “different regulation”—let us be honest and admit that “different regulation” is faux for “deregulation”—brings some mythical great opportunity. It is telling, when I go around to talk to people and ask what regulation they would remove, that the only one that gets suggested is removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses.