A month after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Boris Johnson was asked whether he thought the finance industry would keep its rights to trade freely in the bloc. “I do, I do,” he told reporters. It was never that simple.
Half a decade later, billions of dollars in assets and thousands of jobs have moved to the continent after the U.K. negotiated a bare-bones trade deal with the EU that largely sidelined finance, giving cities across the bloc the chance to lure firms in flux. While the two sides may be just about to ink an agreement to cooperate on financial regulation, neither expects the return of business as usual.