Speaking to The Guardian, Michel Barnier has ruled out a special deal for the City of London - noting the absence of any existing trade agreements for financial services.  

While Barnier's statement is, on its face, unequivocal and consistent with previous messaging, it isn't clear to what extent there is room for manoeuvre during the trade talks (if the price is right).  While it is certainly true that the Single Market offers a peerless model for the free movement of financial services, a new approach must be possible (at least theoretically) if the will exists on both sides to develop it.  It may not.

What does seem clear to me, however, is that the EU27 understands the importance of financial services passporting to the UK and my guess is that agreement - if there is a deal to be done - is unlikely to come early in the negotiations.  

All of this prolongs the agony for contingency planning.  Businesses will continue to plan for a 'cliff edge' Brexit while there is uncertainty on this and other key issues.