Honestly, I should be watching Bowie at the Beeb which is on BBC Four as I write. But I glanced at my phone and saw the front page of the Guardian. The paper’s splash is a report of the leaked minutes of meeting between Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator and former EU Commissioner with responsibility for financial services.

The paper reports:

“The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has shown the first signs of backing away from his hardline, no compromise approach after admitting he wants a deal with Britain that will guarantee the other 27 member states will continue to have easy access to the City. Michel Barnier wants a “special” relationship with the City of London after Britain has left the bloc, according to unpublished minutes seen by the Guardian that hint at unease about the costs of Brexit on continental Europe. Barnier told a private meeting of MEPs this week that special work was needed to avoid financial instability, according to a European parliament summary of the session. “Some very specific work has to be done in this area,” Barnier said, according to the minutes. “There will be a special/specific relationship. There will need to be work outside of the negotiation box … in order to avoid financial instability.”

As I wrote the other day, one should never write that one has been banging on about something for ages. It’s boring and vain. But I have been banging on about this for ages.

The City makes the eurozone’s giant debt machine go round. It dominates euro-denominated trading and other activities, and has the scale and clout that comes from being a global hub. Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin are nice places but do not compare with the Square Mile in terms of concentration of experience and access to capital. If – if – everyone is sensible, Brexit can happen with minimum financial disruption to the EU.

This is not to say that Brexit will be stress free for either the City or the EU. There is a long way to go and Barnier will come under pressure in the EU to punish the UK for its audacity in leaving. Finding a way for both sides to agree on how financial regulation will work after the UK’s departure will be tricky. Politics could present further obstacles. Keeping money flowing and access to capital will require careful handling, which is what Barnier seems to be suggesting. Good for him.

But the point is that Britain (home to the capital of the eurozone and the country with the leading intelligence, security and listening capability in Europe) is not, and never was, some hopeless supplicant begging for mercy. It has not committed national suicide. The City is not about to move to Paris.

Anyway, back to Bowie.

UPDATE: Michel Barnier is now denying that he said or meant special deal. Was it lost in translation? Instead he meant “special vigilance” on financial stability, whatever special vigilance means. Does it mean that if there is no deal to keep Europe’s markets open and functioning smoothly post-Brexit then the EU officials in Brussels will stare especially hard at the television screen when the reports come in of the shock to the European financial system of the eurozone ‎not being able to use London to keep the show on the road? Or has he just had a call from Paris overnight and we’re back to the ludicrous fiction that the City and the UK are poor souls about to be crushed by the might of the 27? There’s a long way to go. Two more years.