Government opens Brexit expat help webpage whilst France entices bankers

Published:  13 Jul at 6 PM
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As the UK government launches a webpage aimed at clarifying expats’ Brexit issues, France pledges to offer generous tax and other relocation perks to UK-based banks and financial institutions.

Unsurprisingly, the UK government website offers little that isn’t known already to even the least enthusiastic followers of British media reports. In the real world, Spain as well as France is re-jigging its tax laws in an attempt to entice bankers and multinationals to their shores.

Spain was the first to announce a review of its corporate tax regime in order to attract UK-based businesses, swiftly followed by a meeting between Italy’s Milanese mayor Giuseppe Sala with the London-based EU financial watchdog. Sala is urging its chairman Andrea Enria to shift the watchdog’s headquarters to Italy.

Although a little late to the party, France’s PM Manuel Valls delivered the most competitive promise so far in a meeting with French finance industry lobby group Europlace. Put simply, he wants Paris to become the world’s future financial capital and will change any rule necessary to make it happen.

As the vultures gather, the best the UK government can do is issue a promise to slash corporation tax to 15 per cent, admittedly the lowest amongst all major economies. Valls is ahead on points in this particular race and is planning to extend for five to eight years the already generous tax regime applying to expatriates and French nationals returning from overseas.

He’s also committed to setting up a multilingual one-stop shop for foreign companies looking to move to France, and governor of the Bank of France Francois Villeroy de Galhau has promised fast-tracking for UK-licensed financial firms considering the move. At the same time, France is totally against the UK having access to the EU single market, with the only threat to France’s aspirations being the tricky problem of British financiers’ retention of the ‘passport’ allowing access to EU markets.

As with many other issues, free movement is the thorn in the UK’s side, given the number of Leave voters who were persuaded that a Brexit win would drastically limit immigration. In the battle between retaining the country’s world-beating financial industry and slashing immigration numbers, it’s not hard to guess which side would win, thus making the referendum even more of a joke than it already is.
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