Speaking in a House of Commons debate, the MP for North East Hertfordshire, Sir Oliver Heald, encouraged the Prime Minister to pay close attention to European ‘passporting’ arrangements in the UK’s Brexit negotiations.
These rules allow service-sector businesses which are regulated in Britain to sell across the EU, without having to gain accreditation in every country they sell to. This is not only important for British firms, but enables the UK to be a gateway to the rest of the EU for businesses across the world, as long as they set up a branch here.
Sir Oliver told Mr Cameron that “many of our businesses rely on the Single Market”, and that “many of my constituents work in London in insurance, financial services, and legal work”.
He urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the negotiations will include discussions on passporting arrangements that “enable these service interests to do so well.”
The Prime Minister accepted that this was an important part of future negotiations saying, “The issue of passporting will loom large in the negotiations”, and “it is undoubtedly true that the passport does help British firms, and it helps other countries’ firms come to Britain. One of the reasons why the Swiss banks are here in such large measure is that they do not get passporting rights through Switzerland. This should be a very important feature; it is one of the aspects of what access to the single market actually means.”
Commenting afterwards, Sir Oliver said, “The passporting rules in the Single Market are vital, but Brexit, and the possibility of leaving the Single Market, put them at risk. Therefore, I urge the current and next prime ministers to ensure that these important arrangements are protected.”