Andrew Bailey's latest speech on Brexit - "The Future of the City" - has rightly made the headlines, and it is clearly intended to be a definitive statement of the FCA's position. It's also hard to not to assume that the FCA and the Bank of England/PRA are in coordinated step on these issues - given the alignment to both regulators' statutory objectives, it would be disappointing if they weren't. So the speech is worth a careful read.
In large part it is a careful argument in favour of open global markets and free trade, and the linked importance of both to London's financial centre. Predictably, much of the coverage has focused on the speech's formal priorities for Brexit, such as the establishment of contract certainty through the transition period and the mutual recognition of regulatory standards post Brexit All of this is important.
But the coverage I've read so far has failed mentioned the key section quoted here. This too may well be intentional on the FCA's part, for, with good reason, regulators try as hard as possible to avoid being drawn into political controversy.
So the sentence is not signposted in one of the speeches two main sections, and instead is included in a preliminary section that cautions the EU against a decision to "disconnect" itself from London, which, Mr Bailey asserts, "would amount to a decision to close market access" that would only be justified "if the UK was derelict in its protection of the public interest..."
Importantly, but almost in brackets, Andrew Bailey is effectively placing the FCA as against any serious post Brexit attempt to relax or remove existing regulation. The basis of his position is that such a move would be a threat to financial stability and open markets.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear UK regulators lining up behind a global framework they have done much to help construct over the last 40 years. What is more interesting, and sad, is that the politicisation of regulation is such that they feel the need to couch their position so carefully that it is almost hidden in plain sight.
It would only be justifiable if the UK was derelict in its protection of the public interest through its regulatory standards. You will be unsurprised to hear that I would oppose this strongly.