Brexit deal should allay concerns of economic impact: Sunak

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) – UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said the trade deal reached with the European Union should reassure people worried about the economic damage of Brexit and can be an “enormously unifying moment for our country.”

London will continue discussions with Brussels over access and equivalence for financial services, the chancellor said on Sunday (Dec 27) after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the agreement did not go as far as he wants for the sector.

The deal, which will be voted on by lawmakers in Parliament on Wednesday, “gives us a strong platform to look forward optimistically and put the divisions of the past behind us,” Sunak said in a pooled TV interview.

“For those who were anxious about the economic implications of leaving, they should be enormously reassured by the comprehensive nature of this free trade agreement.”

Johnson conceded in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that the agreement “perhaps does not go as far as we would like” on financial services, though said it offers “access for solicitors, barristers” and a “good deal for digital.”

There is little clarity for financial firms and no decision on so-called equivalence, which would allow firms to sell their services into the single market from the City of London. The agreement only features standard provisions on financial services, meaning it doesn’t include commitments on market access.

Sunak said it gives a “stable regulatory co-operative framework” and “we will remain in close dialog with our European partners when it comes to things like equivalence decisions.”

Some senior lawmakers from Johnson’s Conservative Party complained there will not be enough time to properly scrutinise the deal when Parliament debates and votes on it on Wednesday.

While the legislation is expected to pass easily as the opposition Labour Party has indicated it will back the agreement rather than risk the economic damage of a no-deal divorce from the EU, dissent among Johnson’s rank-and-file lawmakers may spell trouble for the future.

“Whatever you think of this treaty, it is going to affect the rest of our lives,” former Brexit Secretary David Davis told the Observer. “It does require more than just a rubber stamp.”

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