Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to meet NI politicians

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The pound jumped following the report in The Times, extending gains in early trade to reach $1.2914 GBP=D3 by 0855 GMT.

The pound soared earlier Thursday after The Times reported that London and Brussels have agreed on a preliminary deal that would see United Kingdom financial services retain access to European Union markets after Brexit.

London, which has been a critical artery for the flow of money around the world for centuries, is the world's largest centre of worldwide finance.

"I would be happy to give evidence to the committee when a deal is finalised, and now expect November 21 to be suitable", he wrote.

The Bank of England, which has raised its key rate twice over the past year, is more likely to slash its benchmark rate to zero, economists say.

Ben Broadbent, deputy governor of the Bank of England, said the next move in interest rates would depend on how markets, households and businesses reacted to the UK's departure from the EU.

Britain is now home to the world's largest number of banks and hosts the largest commercial insurance market.

In addition, London dominates Europe's 5.2 trillion euro investment banking industry. While New York is by some measures bigger, it is more centred on American markets.

The UK and European Union have already agreed that the UK will effectively continue to function as if it is within the European Union for the first two years after it leaves.

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The tentative deal being discussed falls far short of that.

No. Currently, inside the European Union, all financial firms in Britain have unfettered access to the bloc's customers, and the City of London has been hoping this would continue after Brexit.

Equivalence covers a more limited range of business and excludes major activities such as commercial bank lending.

They fear that, under equivalence, Britain will end up as a rule-taker - having, like Norway, to cut and paste European Union regulations into national law without having a say.

Yes. Government ministers have said that the current equivalence system is opaque and unreliable because all decisions are made unilaterally by Brussels, and can be scrapped at 30 days' notice.

Backbench Brexiteers are adamant they will rebel should the deal tie Britain into a customs union indefinitely. The EU proposes a mechanism of equivalences to enable the British financial sector to keep having access to the continent.

But Mr Raab suggested that he expected a deal within the next three weeks and set a date for himself and negotiator Olly Robbins to appear before the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier proposed then that a new customs arrangement would be set out in the legally binding withdrawal treaty itself, bending an EU "red line" under which he had previously insisted that the future EU-UK relationship on trade could only be outlined now, and negotiated after Brexit.

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