Continued membership of the European Single Market must be at the heart of Brexit negotiations, says Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
With discussions formally commencing over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Sadiq has called for the Government to “listen to the will of the people and abandon its extreme, Hard Brexit approach”, and secure a deal that protects jobs, investment and prosperity.
The Mayor believes that the result of the recent General Election has ‘moved the goalposts’ in terms of negotiating a Brexit deal – and that a jobs-first Brexit, with continued membership of the Single Market, is the only deal that will serve the best interests of London.
The Mayor has also joined business leaders and the Governor of the Bank of England in repeating his call for a transitional agreement to be reached with the EU soon. This would allow continued access to the single market until any Brexit deal is finalised.
Sadiq believes this would remove the threat of a so-called ‘cliff edge’ and give London businesses the security they need to continue investing and growing over the next two years.
Sadiq Khan, said: “The Prime Minister sought a mandate from the British people for her version of hard Brexit but the electorate registered their opposition. It’s time she heeded the message.
“There is now a broad consensus that such an approach to these crucial negotiations would risk jobs, risk investment and damage business confidence.
“The Brexit goalposts have been moved. The Government must now listen to the will of the people by putting aside ideology and negotiating a sensible Brexit that ensures continuing UK membership of the Single Market.
“Single Market Membership is our best chance to protect the ability of London’s tech, pharmaceutical and financial services businesses to continue accessing our single largest export market.
“Businesses need certainty to continue to invest, so it make perfect sense for government to negotiate a transitional deal with the EU so we have a fall-back option if, as expected, it is not possible to secure a trade deal during the next two years.
“By doing so would we would reduce the real risk of crashing out of the EU and falling back on basic World Trade Organisation rules – creating tariffs on British goods sold in the EU and putting up hugely damaging barriers for services. Unless such a deal is agreed soon, business will take their own measures to avoid the cliff-edge and that could be costly to them and to the UK economy. ”
“Signalling that Britain aims to stay in the Single Market would also give the many EU citizens who make London their home and contribute to our economy the security that I have previously called on the Government to offer them.”
The Mayor has also warned today that Single Market membership is the best way of securing London’s lucrative Euroclearing sector.
Last week, Brussels unveiled a draft law that called for the European Commission to have greater oversight of financial clearing houses which move billions of Euros through the City each day. This could force some London-based businesses to relocate to other financial centres.
Currently London is the undisputed market leader in this sector, which is worth nearly £800bn a day. According to EY, the accountancy firm, the sector accounts for 83,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Sadiq Khan added: “European capitals are currently competing for chunks of London’s businesses and the decision taken by the EU last week on Euroclearing is a clear threat to force our vital financial infrastructure into the Eurozone.
“Staying in the single market and protecting London businesses’ ability to access their largest export market is undeniably the best solution for London and for the rest of the UK.
“But it is also vital that the government quickly agree an interim deal to cover the length of the negotiations, which are likely to last longer than the two years allowed under Article 50. By maintaining our current arrangements with Europe, until our new relationship can be agreed, we would avoid the ‘cliff edge’ and can give business the confidence they need.”