Brexit must not be allowed to restrict trade or freedom of location for Britain's financial services companies, said the head of the UK's market regulator on Thursday.
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said that the economic and financial cost of losing open markets would be too great to bear and was not a necessary response to Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
Relocation fears addressed
He addressed concerns that banks and other financial services may find it preferable to relocate within the EU rather than face the costs of researching and implementing a Brexit strategy once terms have been agreed.
"When I hear people say that firms need to relocate in order to continue to benefit from access to EU financial markets, I start to seriously wonder," said Bailey in a speech on Thursday morning.
He added: Does Brexit have to mean abandoning the benefits of free trade and open markets in financial services? It should not."
Back in February, Paris’ financial centre sent delegates to London to try and persuade City-based bankers to relocate to the French capital.
Some companies have already stated they will moving some staff. Barclays and Morgan Stanley are among those reportedly considering relocating some jobs to Dublin.
Lloyd’s of London, the insurance business, has said it is to establish an office in Brussels in a bid to avoid losing EU customers.
Writing in the New Statesman last year, Anneliese Dodds, who sat on the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, said: "If negotiations descend into each side trying to steal business from the other, neither will win."
Costs too high
Certainly the costs of relocation would be eye-wateringly severe.
Research by Synechron, a financial services consultancy and technology group, suggests relocation to financial centres in Amsterdam, Dublin, Paris or Frankfurt would cost firms an average of £50,000 per employee.