Policy Chairman Catherine McGuinness's speech from the Policy and Resources Committee Dinner
Good evening. I was elected Chairman on the 2nd of May.
Four weeks later, on the 3rd of June, London suffered its second terrorist attack in three months, killing 8 people at London Bridge and Borough Market. On the 8th of June, we had the unexpected general election, with that even more unexpected result.
The following week, on the 14th of June, fire broke out in the Grenfell Tower. It has been a challenging time for our city. City of London Police were among the first responders to the London Bridge attack.
And after the Grenfell fire, the City Corporation worked in partnership with other London local authorities in a coordinated relief effort, with our Town Clerk - John Barradell - leading the team. I am proud of our response and I’d like to thank very warmly all those who played a part.
The backdrop to this has been the national political and economic instability associated with Brexit, with major on-going effects on the City of London and the businesses based here.
I recently visited the USA, Israel and China, and the single biggest message I heard was concern at the slow rate of progress in Brexit negotiations and the uncertainty of our future. Coupled with a stark message that the status of London has diminished in the eyes of our partners and competitors, and we now have a case to prove.
The concern I heard was not just about the long-term settlement but also the risk of the UK leaving with no deal. A risk which we must not underestimate.
Let’s remember how much is at stake. Our recent Total Tax report confirmed that the financial services sector contributed £72 billion in tax last year. That represents 11% of Government tax receipts, equivalent to half the NHS budget. The financial and related professional services sector directly employs 2.2 million people across the UK. Not getting the right deal – or getting no deal – puts this at risk.
That’s why we, in close partnership with many of you here, have been making the case for an agreement with the EU that delivers the three pillars of Transition, Talent and Trade – the three Ts.
Transition - as close as possible to the status quo, and agreed as soon as possible.
On talent – a migration system which makes Global Britain a welcoming place to work and study – and provides complete reassurance for EU citizens already here.
And on trade - a bespoke UK-EU agreement, providing mutual market access in financial services.
The EU’s existing equivalence regimes cannot provide the certainty or the access global markets need. The City Corporation is working with the rest of the sector – with many of you - to achieve the best possible deal – talking to politicians and regulators across the EU. We value our close partnership with TheCityUK, with whom we support the International Regulatory Strategy Group – the IRSG.
And we work with the CBI and with trade associations represented here, and I would like to thank you all for your contribution and your friendship. Looking beyond Brexit, it’s vital that we continue to make the most of the opportunities around the globe. I recently spoke at the China Britain Business Council on the opportunities for business with London, and I’m due to go to China again next week with several of you to accompany the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
At home, the City of London must continue to play our part in ensuring that the City, the capital and the country are in the best position to thrive after Brexit. In the City, we are looking to build a new courthouse specialising in fraud, economic crime and cybercrime.
We’ve launched Culture Mile, our cultural and creative hub in the North West of the City – indeed you’re right in it now. We are working in partnership with the GLA to open a new site for the Museum of London at West Smithfield – just down the road – which will open up a site for a possible new Centre of Music.
We will soon benefit from the opening of the Elizabeth Line, which we have championed and supported. We will continue to campaign for a new runway at Heathrow and the additional airport capacity that London desperately needs – the Government cannot afford to delay this any longer.
We will also continue our work to encourage diversity, social mobility and inclusion. And on that front I am pleased to announce tonight that the City Corporation intends to sign the Women In Finance charter, which commits employers to supporting the progression of women into senior roles.
This is a critical time for the whole of London. We need to act now to secure jobs in the capital and across the country. In my recent visits to Belfast, Bristol, Cambridge and Manchester, I have been struck with the hunger for engagement with the City that I have met there.
We are building more strategic partnerships across the UK, forging stronger connections so that we can make common cause on the shared challenges we all face. Partnership will be crucial to our success in meeting the challenges we currently face. Partnership across the country, so that our great cities fully support each other. Partnership in the capital, to tackle challenges in infrastructure, housing and education. Partnership in the City, to build the new facilities we need.
And, most urgently, partnership with the financial and professional services sector, with politicians, and with our EU counterparts, to support the best possible Brexit settlement for us all. It is by working together that we will secure the most successful future.