Crypto leaders redirect focus to the UK Labour Party ahead of elections

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As the United Kingdom prepares for the snap election on July 4, the cryptocurrency industry is strategically shifting its attention toward the Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer. 

This redirection, as reported by Bloomberg, comes amid widespread uncertainty regarding the future of crypto regulation in the U.K., following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s surprise call for an early election.

Recent events have underscored the crypto sector’s proactive efforts to build strong ties with British lawmakers. For instance, just days before Sunak’s announcement, crypto executives gathered on a House of Commons terrace at an event organized by Coinbase, demonstrating the industry’s ongoing bid to influence U.K. politics. 

While representatives from both major political parties attended, the crypto sector has increasingly targeted the Labour Party due to its substantial lead in the polls.

The U.K. crypto regulatory environment remains somewhat fragmented. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed strict regulations, such as banning U.K. firms from offering crypto derivatives and Exchange Traded Notes (ETNs) to retail consumers. 

These measures aim to protect consumers and mitigate potential harm. However, the FCA permits professional investors, including investment firms and credit institutions, to engage with these products under specific conditions.

Currently, the U.K.’s regulatory framework for cryptoassets is limited, with the FCA overseeing anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CFT) regulations. Crypto asset service providers must register with the FCA and implement robust AML and CFT measures, including KYC and CDD procedures. 

Additionally, the FCA has published a discussion paper on regulating fiat-backed stablecoins, aiming to align their regulatory standards with traditional financial instruments while considering their unique risks.

Given these regulatory challenges and the upcoming election, the crypto industry keenly focuses on Labour’s potential policies. Although Starmer has not explicitly addressed his stance on cryptocurrencies, Labour’s consistent lead in the polls has driven the industry to prepare for a possible shift in political power. 

The industry has engaged with key Labour figures such as Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, and Tulip Siddiq, Shadow City Minister, anticipating that they may spearhead efforts to rejuvenate London’s status as a global financial center post-Brexit.

In January, Coinbase hosted a breakfast roundtable with Reeves at the World Economic Forum, highlighting the industry’s strategic engagement with Labour leadership. Executives from major venture capital firms and fintech companies participated in these discussions, reflecting the high stakes for the crypto sector. 

Beyond high-level engagements, the crypto industry is also focusing on grassroots outreach in Labour strongholds. This shift in strategy aims to demonstrate the tangible benefits of digital assets for everyday people, moving away from a purely market-focused narrative. 

Despite the industry’s efforts, the U.K. still lags behind other financial centers in implementing comprehensive crypto regulations. The European Union has adopted extensive crypto legislation, expected to implement MiCA this month. 

In contrast, the U.K. relies on a patchwork of rules primarily enforced by the FCA. The U.K. Treasury’s plans, outlined in early 2022, propose regulating digital assets similarly to traditional financial services, but progress has been slow. The Treasury further proposed a regulatory overhaul this year.

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