Posted: 08.09.20 at 13:53 by Nick Hudson
BEDWORTH MP Craig Tracey is convinced the future’s bright for post-Brexit success in trade deals around the world if Britain takes note of a groundbreaking regulatory agreement forged with the banking capital of Bern in Switzerland.
The Conservative chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Insurance and Financial Services admits Covid-19 may have left the UK something of a “mountain to climb” on the road to economic recovery.
Added to that Boris Johnson has indicated there are just 37 days left for the UK to reach an accord with the EU “or walk away” as the two sides enter the final phase of negotiations over a trade agreement.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is in London today for the latest round of Brexit talks amid anger in Brussels over UK legislation which could override key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement – and has reportedly led to civil servant Sir Jonathan Jones quitting as the permanent secretary of the Government Legal Department.
Mr Tracey says the Prime Minister is “absolutely right” to inists on an October 15 deadline for agreement, adding: ”If we can't agree by then, it is unlikely we ever will and it allows businesses to have the clarity for their futures.
And the former insurance broker believes Britain will “still be able to prosper” without a trade deal and points to an “opportunity” which has presented itself in the form of regulatory agreement – ratified in the summer – between the UK and Switzerland.
The deal which was struck in June between Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his opposite number should be seen as a “template for wider post-Brexit success”, added the town’s MP.
Further financial dialogue is beginning today between London and Bern with “both governments now in a position to show the world what two financial services powerhouses can achieve together”, Mr Tracey told City A.M. this morning.
He added: “Deepening trade ties with a nation which we had £14.9 billion of bilateral trade in 2018 is a major step forward for our trade agenda.
“But, equally as important, delivering a template for future agreements that further the UK’s interests by gaining access to foreign markets and welcoming investors and businesses to our world-leading financial services ecosystems, is a real game changer.
“We need to be innovative and use the regulatory powers that already exist to welcome these international investors to our shores.”
The MP feels there is a “win-win” situation based on the Swiss trade talks which has been further enhanced by the London Market Group developing a set of proposals for a new regulatory arrangement between the UK and Switzerland that could provide easier access for trusted Swiss firms, while growing and onshoring UK jobs and securing investment.
He told City A.M.: “Ultimately we need to reach a point where our relationship is based on a passporting style arrangement which allows brokers, insurers and reinsurers in the UK and Switzerland to trade freely cross-border, allowing brokers to have direct contact with clients in Switzerland and carriers to write business on a cross border basis.
“The next six months are a crucial time for our nation, as the government completes the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and continues its trade negotiations.
“Nobody is saying it’ll be an easy period, but these crucial talks with the Swiss may just hold the key to a bright future.”
The MP’s comments won him “thanks” from the London Market Group for its proposals which “could provide easier access for trusted Swiss firms”.
The Prime Minister made statement yesterday promising the Government would “continue to work hard” throughout September to achieve a Canada-style trade agreement with the EU.
He said: “Even at this late stage, if the EU are ready to rethink their current positions and agree this I will be delighted.”
But he warned: “We cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it.”