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Guest Notes: Realpolitik at last!

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Like them or loathe them – the UK has tabled tangible proposals to the EU on our future trading relationship.

I – like many in the City – wanted to see a comprehensive approach for both goods and services. As the City and the UK financial sector is our biggest trade earner, biggest taxpayer and one of the largest employers in our economy – I wanted to hear a lot more about it.

You should characterise the white paper as a win for Leavers on services and a win for Remainers on goods. Thats been the chatter in the City and Westminster since the Chequers summit unleashed hell on the Tory benches.

But the government now has a position. Its a pragmatic one. It might just work. I was in Dublin this week meeting government and business there and the words towards the UK had thawed a lot. There is support for Theresa May. I warmed to the notes that the Prime Minister chimed in the Mansion House back in March when she called for a “mutual recognition” deal for finance.

Read more: Brexit white paper: City figures scathing over "blow" to financial services

I have been dismayed that all the political effort since that speech has been on goods and very little heavy lifting politically has been done on services. In fact I was told by a senior mandarin last month that the UK had simply stopped arguing for a deal for the financial services sector.

That was a clear mistake. But we are where we are. The hard Brexiters have simply failed to come up with a pragmatic set of options for the services sector ever since the 2016 referendum. It is now time for our politicians to stop bickering – for our government to unite – and drive through the most pragmatic deal for our economy.

I now look at parliament and I fear there might not be a majority for anything anymore. But our politicians need to get real – and embark on the art of the possible. Right here, right now.

Cicero would approve

Running a business called Cicero Group, I really had to bag the hot ticket that is the Royal Shakespeare Companys Imperium. Adapted by Mike Poulton on the trilogy of Robert Harris novels about Marcus Tullius Cicero – it is a superb ride for anyone interested in politics, business or the law. Sounds like a great one for savvy City A.M. readers. One word – GO.

Fintech breaking news

Global Britain can sometimes sound a bit hollow. Fintech shows that it is not. The UK has global players and is a world leader; of that there is no doubt. But beyond that the approach that UK regulators have taken – to allow creative and dynamic business to take place – has supported that effort. The sandbox initiated by the regulator for new players to play is a ground-breaking move for a regulator anywhere.

In the past few months we have launched the City of London/Innovate Finance Fintech Strategy Group – and I am beyond excited to be chairing it. I am also chuffed to have a world leading regulator sat at my table and can now reveal to City A.M. readers that the FCAs strategy director Chris Woolard will be chairing the global regulatory co-operation body IOSCOs new Fintech Network set to launch imminently. It is set to be the place where global fintech standards are debated and set.

Read more: Fintech50: the hottest startups in Europe right now

It is brilliant to see the FCA in the lead on this work at this time. There is so much hot air talked right now about how we can maximise global opportunities and so many groups talking about just how to do it.

But thats all they seem to do – talk. Huge well done Chris and the FCA. We are in the lead. Lets just stay there.

Speaking for schools

On Monday Im going to be in Barnsley. Its my first entree with Robert Pestons brilliant initiative Speakers for Schools which brings business, political and media folks into state schools to talk about their life journey. Its going to be a demanding Year 7 audience and Im a bit nervous. The teacher asked me if I was going to do a Ted-style talk. I thought given Im in Barnsley I would adopt the style of its most famous son Michael Parkinson and be interviewed by the students themselves.

Do you believe in life after love?

I was invited to Number 10 this month to be part of the launch of the governments LGBTQ strategy. How far we have come as a country. I heard the PM stand up and make clear her commitment towards a more tolerant and accepting country. Later I found myself deep in conversation with Scotland secretary David Mundell when the Number 10 DJ (yes, there is one) fired up with Chers 1998 masterpiece Believe. So we had a wee jig together in the Downing Street garden! How times have changed.

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