European parliament leader demands UK be stripped of all euro-related business

Joe Watts
Manfred Weber says the EU has its sights set on London's business: Getty

One of the most senior figures in the European Parliament has said it will be a key Brexit goal to strip London of all euro-related business and shift it to continental rivals.

Leader of the biggest political grouping Manfred Weber warned that London will “lose” out from Brexit to rivals like Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dublin.

Speaking as the parliament is set to formalise its Brexit position in a vote on Wednesday, Mr Weber also said the UK should not be surprised that Brussels takes Spain’s side when it comes to Gibraltar.

He also underlined that Britain’s divorce bill – up to £50bn by some estimates – should be the first item on the Brexit agenda and that the UK must give guarantees not to turn itself into a Singapore-style tax haven.

London is the world's leading financial centre for the lucrative clearing of derivatives denominated in euros, but Mr Weber said: “It’s not thinkable that, at the end, the whole euro-business is still managed in London.

“This is an external place, this is not an EU place anymore. The euro-business should be managed on EU soil.”

He explained that a natural outcome of Brexit would be that when it came to euro-related business, cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt will “win and others will lose”.

He added: “It will not be an advantage. It will not be a positive thing for the City of London at the end.”

In a bullish display, Mr Weber also referenced the furore over Gibraltar that erupted after European Council President Donald Tusk published guidelines for the EU negotiating mandate, giving Spain a veto over any deal involving the territory.

He said: “Sorry – I can send the message again to the British friends – from now on, we will have the interests of the EU 27 in mind and not anymore of the British in mind.

“So we have the interests of Spain in mind. And not any more, of Britain in mind.

He added: “So you should not complain that we take only the Spanish interests in mind from now. That is the outcome when you leave this family.”

Despite Ms May’s calls for both withdrawal talks and trade talks to take place in tandem Mr Tusk and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been clear that the former must come first.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told The Independent that “certainty” over the UK’s financial liabilities on leaving the EU would be necessary before moving on to trade talks.

Mr Weber backed the position, stating that “EU citizens will not pay the bill for the British”.

Following suggestions from London, in particular from Chancellor Philip Hammond, that the UK would not be afraid of transforming itself into a Singapore-style low tax economy, Mr Weber said: “EU citizens remain the masters of their own house, that means for us that we don’t accept any kind of ‘Singapore’ model, which Hammond and others already put as one of the options on the table.

“Any kind of dumping next to the European Union in the future, as an external country like Great Britain, any kind of dumping will be not acceptable for us.

“So that must be guaranteed in any kind of negotiations, that we don’t allow this dumping approach on taxation and on social standards.”

The parliament will become the first EU institution to formalise its position when it votes on guidelines that were published in the wake of the triggering of Article 50.

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