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'We're not Brexit predators': France denies it is trying to steal jobs from UK

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'We're not Brexit predators': France denies it is trying to steal jobs from UK
Bruno Le Maire (right) insists France are not trying to undermine the UK to make the most of Brexit.
08:46 CEST+02:00
The French Economy Minister has denied that Paris is trying to make the most of Brexit and take thousands of jobs from the UK. He also sounded the alarm bell for the ongoing negotiations saying, "time is running out".

France has often been accused by certain elements of the British political class and the UK media of doing its utmost to gain from the fallout of the British public's shock decision to vote the EU.

But Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire tried to rubbish the idea that France was openly trying to take advantage of Brexit to boost Paris at the expense of London.

"We don't have a predatory vision when it comes to Brexit," Le Maire told The Local and other members of the Anglo American Press Association in Paris on Monday.

"It's not about taking jobs from the UK, it's about (making France) more attractive - all in the framework of fair competition," he said.

"I repeat: we don't have a predatory vision, it's not about making London lose out so Paris can gain. It's just about making Paris more attractive," he said.

There will be some in the UK, particularly those involved in the Brexit negotiations, who might not believe him.

London has been irked by some of the agressive ad campaigns launched by French officials to persuade companies to move across the Channel. Some have even been banned.

READ ALSO: 'Merci Brexit' - Paris overtakes London as most attractive European capital

And in July last year the British finance sector's EU pointman warned in a leaked report that France was seeking to use Brexit to weaken the City of London.

"They are crystal clear about their underlying objective: the weakening of Britain, the ongoing degradation of the City of London," Jeremy Browne, a former government minister who is the City's Brexit envoy, said in a memo after a trip to France.
 
Browne added that "every country, not unreasonably, is alive to the opportunities that Brexit provides, but the French go further".
 
But Le Maire insists France's only intention is to make Paris more attractive to bankers and believes measures the government has taken will see thousands of jobs move from London to the French capital.
 
 
"We have taken a certain number of measures to be more attractive whether it's around salaries, welcoming personnel, classes in English or dividends," Le Maire said.
 
"Effectively this translates into an intention to relocalise a certain number of jobs that when calculated over a few years will number in the thousands.
 
Le Maire stressed that the government wants Paris to become a major financial centre and that measures they have taken, notably around tax cuts, are in order to achieve that aim.
 
 
In March this year Le Maire had already spoken of his confidence that "several thousand" jobs would relocate from London to Paris thanks to Brexit and also warned the UK any post-Brexit free trade deal struck between Britain and the European Union must not include financial services.
 
The president of the Paris region of Ile-de-France, Valerie Pecresse, has even spoken of 10,000 jobs relocating by next year.
 

Brexit negotiations are entering a crunch phase as talks continue on what the UK's future relationship with the EU will be, especially in the crucial area of trade.

While certain pro-Brexit politicians in the UK suggest Prime Minister Theresa May should be prepared to walk away without a deal, around 100,000 people marched in London on Saturday to demand a second referendum, this time on the terms of the divorce settlement from the EU.

When asked by The Local whether he would back a second referendum on Brexit in the UK, Le Maire declined to take sides but simply warned that "time was running out" to conclude Brexit talks in the right way.

"I must say time is running out and things are not progressing very much," he said, adding that he regretted the Britain's vote to leave the EU.
 
"An event of such importance like Brexit needs preparation and decisions to be made... But I see we are arriving at the deadline and I don't have the feeling we will be ready and I can't hide the fact that I am worried about that because Brexit, whatever it will be, must happen in the right order. 
 
"If there are no other decisions taken by the British people then Brexit must happen in the right order.
 
"It must be prepared and the necessary choices and decisions need to be made. If they are not then it will be no good for anyone, neither the UK or the EU."
 
 
Le Maire has been critical of the UK government's Brexit stance in the past, particularly over the amount of the so-called divorce bill that was eventually settled as part of the draft withdrawal agreement last December.
 
"We, Europeans, say to the British: 'We want our money back'," said Le Maire last October.

He accused Britain of trying to shirk the commitments it made to the EU's budget.

"It's as if you went to a restaurant, ordered a meal, began eating and then walked out in the middle of the meal, saying: 'I'm not going to pay after all'. That's not possible," he said.

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