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Sadiq Khan in talks with No 10 over London EU single market deal

uujjSadiq Khan today held urgent talks with the Government’s Brexit czar about London remaining in the single market.

The Mayor met Tory Oliver Letwin, in charge of negotiations with the EU, to discuss keeping the doors open for London-based firms.

City Hall insiders said “nothing was off the table” at the Downing Street talks to protect the capital’s status as a financial powerhouse.

Mr Khan pushed for guarantees that London’s firms would retain the access to the single market that is so crucial to the city’s success.

This included protecting “passporting” rights that allow the capital’s financial sector to offer services across the European Union.

He told Mr Letwin, appointed by David Cameron to head the special civil service unit, that a successful London was even more important to the economic health of the rest of the UK outside the EU.

The Mayor also pushed for wide-ranging new powers — including over some taxes and key public services — to be handed to London.

Sources close to Mr Khan said: “Sadiq’s top priority right now is protecting Londoners’ jobs, wealth and prosperity through the uncertainty ahead. At this stage frankly nothing is off the table when it comes to keeping London’s economy moving.”

His office has been in contact with senior figures at No 10 over the past few days to argue the capital’s case, with insiders claiming they had a “positive response” from government officials.

The Downing Street talks came after Mr Cameron told MPs London needed to “have its voice heard” in the Brexit negotiations.

“There are many vital industries in London, but it is the capital not only of the UK’s financial services but of Europe’s financial services, and securing the best possible access to the single market will be a very important challenge in these negotiations,” he said. “This is a UK negotiation, but we should listen to the nations of the UK as well as to the cities and the regions.”

City Hall officials are also working on contingency plans, including discussions with Scottish government officials, to consider all options for London staying in the single market.  The main Tory leadership candidates will be under pressure to explain how they plan to deliver access to the single market while also living up to promises to curb immigration. The EU has explicitly ruled out doing both.

Mr Khan has also spoken to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon for the second time since the referendum. Sources said they agreed on further co-operation aiming to protect relations with the EU. He is also talking to Gibraltar’s first minister.

The Mayor and his team have been in constant contact with City Hall’s Brussels office.

London was the only region of England to vote to Remain, and nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition asking for the capital to become independent.