Even as Paris eyes Brexit spoils, they want us to stay

by Graham Bishop | 15.07.2019

Paris: A recent trip to the French capital revealed exactly what they make of the opportunities Brexit Britain is throwing their way – especially as the new prime minister looks set to pursue a no-deal crash out.

Let’s be clear about the scale of what we could end up bunging to them: the UK financial services industry pays £75 billion in taxes. This is 11% of all UK tax revenue and equates to about half of spending on the NHS. The loss of some of this tax is presumably high among the reasons chancellor Philip Hammond is warning about a £90 billion tax black hole in a “no deal” scenario.

Some of these massive tax revenues flow directly from London’s role as the financial centre of Europe. That “euro” portion has always been eyed enviously by the rest of the EU and now the cherry picking is getting underway – but it is they who are picking the cherries, not us! 

So, what is the Paris financial community doing about eating our cherries? French prime minister Edouard Philippe reminded the audience at the annual conference for Paris Europlace, the official organisation for promoting French finance,  that two years ago, in light of the Brexit vote, he had promised 20 measures to attract financiers to Paris. All 20 are now enacted – even if some are still to be implemented.

Like so many other speakers, he was clear that Brexit is a huge challenge, and not only to the UK. He has never believed that leaving the EU is a good thing for us in the UK – but we have made the choice and now “they” must prepare. A litany of measures have unfolded: new international schools, improved transport, turning the Paris region multilingual, cooperation with Frankfurt, etc. 

There will not be a single city replacing London, and it is already clear that cities are specialising in their offer. France, Germany and the Netherlands have launched a new campaign to strengthen financial integration to serve the savings of the peoples of Europe. The listings of jobs moved and business relocation enquiries – especially among hi-tech operators – should leave us in no doubt that Brexit has been underway for the financial world since March 31 and some of our prize cherries are already being digested.

Nevertheless, there is still a sadness to see us leave the EU. People feel sure that their government would give us more time – if there is a good reason. More waffling about unicorn backstops did not cut the mustard with anyone. But when I suggested giving the UK enough time to mount a properly prepared Peoples Vote… Bien sûr! And bonne chance with your campaign to stay in the EU!

Graham Bishop is vice-chair of the European Movement.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “Even as Paris eyes Brexit spoils, they want us to stay”

  • There are buffoons and worse in politics….Johnson and Trump to name a couple. Generally though, cynic as I am, most senior politicians in the west are reasonably sincere and intelligent people. That’s why almost without exception, they all KNOW that Brexit is a very stupid route for our so called government to slavishly pursue.

  • What a silly article. Britain throws a wobble, which damages the interests of other European hugely. They can do nothing but watch half the Brits going loopy, but as luck has it some positive development turns out that British industry belatedly reaches the conclusion that their continued existence is better served by upping stocks and move back somewhere into the EU. Well, going by the rather frustrated noises of this writer they should have politely refused to take those “spoils”? Never knew there was war in the first place, but it is quite obvious that others than Brits will never do the right thing in this world. Sad, really.