Mayor of London says banks must have post-Brexit access to Europe

LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Failing to maintain access for banks to the European Union market after Brexit would be an act of “economic sabotage” that would ripple across Britain, London Mayor Sadiq Khan will say on Thursday.

Banks in Britain have said they are preparing to move staff and activities to mainland Europe as soon as next year unless access to the bloc’s single market is maintained after Brexit.

Khan was due to make the remarks in a speech at a dinner in the City of London financial district, when he will also say that mishandling Brexit might have the biggest impact on financial services since “Big Bang” deregulation 30 years ago.

That event helped to propel London to the top of the global financial centre league tables, a ranking that will be hard to keep without EU market access, bankers have said.

“If the proper agreements aren’t negotiated, there will be serious knock-on impacts with jobs and billions of revenues lost - something that would hit the entire country, not just London,” Khan will say.

“It’s frustrating, to say the least, that much of what we are saying seems to be falling on deaf ears.”

Khan, a member of the opposition Labour Party, will call for Britain’s Conservative government to get a “unique” deal that would avoid denting financial services, the economy’s single biggest sector.

“If we fail to get a good Brexit deal, businesses are more likely to move to New York, Singapore and Hong Kong than to other cities in Europe,” Khan will say.

A tenth of staff in the City are from other EU countries.

Banks in London have an “EU passport” allowing them to operate freely across the bloc, but bankers expect that after Brexit, any access to the European market will be on less favourable terms than now. (Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Louise Ireland)