UK facing calls for '˜more clarity, less ambiquity' on Brexit

France's economy minister has called for 'more clarity and less ambiguity' from the UK Government on its plans for Brexit.

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Benjamin Griveaux was speaking during a trip to London to meet leaders of the financial services industry who, he believes, may want to move activities and staff to Paris because of Britain’s planned withdrawal from the EU.

Mr Griveaux insisted he was promoting “fair competition”, rather than seeking to poach jobs from the UK, and he said France has a strong relationship with the UK and wants a “fair Brexit”.

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But he left no doubt he believes Brexit will help make France “the new place to be” for financial sector companies, despite trade union protests in recent days against labour reforms being introduced by President Emmanuel Macron.

He said he was meeting the European Banking Authority, which is being wooed by a range of EU countries hoping to provide it with a new home after it is forced by Brexit to move away from London.

“I think we have a strong partnership and a deep relationship with the UK,” said the Macron ally. “British voters made a choice by 52% last year and we need to have a fair Brexit, but we need to move on and we need probably more clarity and less ambiguity from the British Government regarding the target of Brexit.”

He said he was visiting countries including China, South Korea and Japan to spread the word about Mr Macron’s programme to make France a more attractive location for business.

Mr Griveaux told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is about fair competition and I’m sure that British people are very attached to the European values of freedom and fair competition.”

He said France was undergoing a “silent revolution” as a result of the election victories of Mr Macron and his En Marche party earlier this year.

“I’m here to explain that something has changed in the kingdom of France, it’s as simple as that,” he said.

“We are here to convince the major financial institutions that might be interested tomorrow - because of Brexit, but not only Brexit but also for mid-term and long-term investment in France - that France is the new place to be in continental Europe.”

Mr Griveaux declined to say how many jobs he was hoping to attract to Paris, but said one US insurer had said it would base its European HQ there.

He played down the significance of union protests against Mr Macron’s reforms, insisting: “In less than 100 days, France will have a flexible labour market which is one of the main issues that financial institutions are discussing.”