Will we be swapping red for the old blue ones? Mention passports and Brexit, and that’s what most people think of. But now passporting - something altogether different - has come to the fore.
The market turmoil that greeted the Brexit vote was more shock than awe, and underlined traders' fears of what might lie ahead - not just for the economy but their own livelihoods. The likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have made ominous mutterings about moving jobs – and that not just a hissy fit.
Passporting is a regime that was established in the 1990s whereby a bank setting up in one EU state can open branches or offer services in other states without needing authorisation. So many overseas banks set up bases in London, attracted by an favourable tax regime, skilled staff, infrastructure, and a time zone conveniently positioned midway between the US and Far East.
The FCA revealed that 5000 UK companies have a passport to operate in the EU- and over 8000 european ones have one to operate here.
In the last 20 years, our trade in financial services has tripled to 3% of GDP. That's more than twice the EU average, and happened despite our decision not to join the euro. We sell roughly £20bn more of financial services to the EU in a year than they sell to us. By comparison, we ran a deficit in our trade in goods with the EU of more than £20bn in the last 3 months. Official data shows the services industry accounted for 78.5% of the country's gross domestic product in 2015, of which the financial industry made up 7.6% - accounting for £111bn.
So what happens next? Many are pinning their hopes on the catchily-termed MIFID 2 - that is, an agreement that comes into play in 2018. Essentially, non-EU countries could be granted passporting rights if they have a similar regulatory framework to the EU. So, in theory, much of our financial sector could carry on regardless. But taking advantage of MIFID provisions would be part of our Brexit negotiations, and would be far from straightforward (and it may take oath for institutions to then get approval themselves). And MIFID doesn't cover some areas, including insurance and some forms of asset management.
Unsurprising then that some institutions are pondering setting up branches elsewhere - or moving large numbers of staff.
With the vote for Brexit seen as a vote against the elites, some might have limited sympathy for a few bankers losing their jobs. But love or loathe what the Square Mile and its cronies stand for, the negotiations over passporting will, quite literally, be a big deal.