London finance sector ‘optimistic’ on Brexit transition: envoy

London – The financial district is optimistic that a Brexit transitional agreement can be achieved “in the next few months”, its representative to the European Union has told AFP.

“The City of London is reasonably optimistic about a transition agreement being arrived at soon,” Jeremy Browne, special representative for the City to the EU, said in an interview.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has committed to seeking a two-year transition deal for the UK once it exits the EU in March 2019.

“There seem to be a reasonable consensus both on the EU side of the negotiation and on the UK side… that a transition is desirable and necessary and we hope that this would be agreed in the next few months,” Browne said.

May wants Britain to leave the EU single market and customs union, while forging a new economic partnership with the bloc.

However, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that any deal would result in Britain’s banks and financial companies losing rights to trade across the bloc.

Browne pointed to estimates of between 5,000 and 10,000 UK financial sector jobs being lost owing to Brexit.

But he added that “the most apocalyptic scenarios have not materialised in terms of jobs losses in London and will not materialise”, as Browne voiced confidence that “London will remain by a large margin the big global financial centre for the continent of Europe”.

He added: “London is permanently being subject to disruptive change, has been for hundreds of years and will be in the future”.