Chris Hayward is the City Corporation’s director of policy. This role, for which he was elected for five years, made him one of the main lobbyists in the London financial centre.
What has been the effect of Brexit on the financial centre?
My big fear at the time of Brexit was that we would lose thousands and thousands of jobs. It didn’t materialize. In March 2022 (according to the score of the EY firm), we had lost 7,000.
We continue to attract talent from around the world. Our rules of law are a major attraction for companies setting up shop in the city, as well as our time zone (between Asia and America) or our language. Let me give you an example of the city’s prosperity: we have six new skyscrapers in the pipeline right now. This does not indicate a city that lacks ambition or success.
In December, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt introduced a series of regulatory reforms. Do they satisfy you?
These are excellent announcements, which aim to strengthen the competitiveness of the City. One of the things that seems most important to us is the introduction of a secondary objective given to regulators, who will now also have to take into account the competitiveness of the sector. Good regulation and good growth are two sides of the same coin, we need both together.
Is this deregulation, a return to the so-called “light touch” regime of the 2000s?
No, I don’t believe so. Many journalists have asked me this question: is it a regulatory race for the lowest bidder? We don’t want it. This is responsible and competitive regulation.
You were personally against Brexit, but now that it’s happened, do you think it offers you opportunities?
Yes, it allowed us to sign free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand. And look what is happening with Switzerland: we are discussing a mutual recognition agreement for financial services. This could not have happened while we were in the EU. He was supposed to be signed at the end of 2022, it’s now been pushed back to the third quarter of 2023, but it would be a big step forward.
The EU has only granted you one financial equivalence [une forme d’homologation] while the United States has twenty-one. You got almost nothing…
We were disappointed. At the moment, when I go to Brussels, it is very difficult to talk to the Commission. The problem is that you have to sort out the political issues first, especially the Northern Irish protocol. But for me, the divorce is over. It is time to create an independent UK but with strong ties to the EU. We need to set up the discussion forum provided for by the Brexit agreement in financial services.
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