Treasury committee pushes ministers to release financial services Brexit paper

Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan

The government's refusal to commit to publishing a paper on the financial services industry after Brexit has been condemned by the Treasury Select Committee's chairwoman.

Senior Tory Nicky Morgan said "the clock is ticking" for the vital industry and called for a position paper to be published immediately.

In a withering response to the Treasury, Mrs Morgan said: "Nothing undermines a negotiating position more than not having one."

Economic secretary John Glen wrote to Mrs Morgan setting out the Government's position, insisting that it would not publish anything which could undermine the Brexit negotiations.

He said: "It is important to be cognisant of the fact that the UK's intentions for our future relationship with the EU form an integral part of our negotiating strategy.

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"Negotiations are highly sensitive and we want to secure the best possible outcome, including for our financial services industry."

Mr Glen told Mrs Morgan: "We must carefully consider the timing of any publications that could be used to undermine the UK's negotiating position."

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In January, Brexit secretary David Davis told MPs: "We may well publish on financial services. I suspect we will publish something and we are certainly going to have a lot of public debate about it."

In her response to Mr Glen's letter, Mrs Morgan said: "The clock is ticking for the financial services industry.

"Many firms will begin to activate their Brexit contingency plans at the end of March, but they're still none the wiser about the government's desired end-state for the sector.

"By publishing a position paper on financial services, the government could articulate a clear sense of direction and provide some much-needed clarity.

"Yet, as the economic secretary confirms, the government is refusing to publish such a paper for fear of undermining the UK's negotiating position.

"Nothing undermines a negotiating position more than not having one.

"Clarity has been provided for numerous other sectors, so the more than one million people employed in financial services will take no comfort in the government's inaction.

"Financial services firms will be seriously concerned at the chronic state of uncertainty.

"The Government should publish its position paper on the future of financial services immediately."

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