At a Glance
- Financial passporting is key issue, says former Prime Minister
On September 22, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May delivered long-awaited remarks aimed at moving forward Brexit negotiations with the European Union. May’s suggestion of a two year transition period during which the UK would continue to have access to the single market through 2021 was called “constructive” by the EU chief negotiator, but met with skepticism from Brexit supporters.
It’s the latest in a long series of discussions, speeches and elections that are working toward a U.K. exit. We spoke with former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who opposed Brexit, on his views on the transition and where he sees challenges. On the subject of the single market, he had this to say:
“We will face a very fundamental choice: We will go into the single market in which case we’ll have a lot of obligations including free movement of people in Europe, which will be a problem for one part of the population. Alternatively, we’ll go out of the single market of Europe, and frankly it’s going to be a painful process of restructuring.”
Another key point of discussion, says Blair, is the subject of financial passporting — the practice that currently allows financial firms to set up in London, and have access to the whole EU. Financial services makes up 12 percent of UK GDP, he told us.
“If we don’t retain that financial passporting, then I think it’s going to be very tough for us indeed. One part of the negotiation is going to be how does Britain protect its financial services sector. Otherwise there is a risk that at least some of those jobs go abroad.”
Watch our edited conversation with Blair in the video above.