Britain finds itself on a collision course with France over fishing and access to the EU single market as forms and fees on UK visits to friends and family in France begin to bite
It has been a gloomy week on the sunlit uplands of sovereign Britain as various Brexit chickens continue to come home to roost, before being questioned for several hours at Heathrow, detained at Yarl’s Wood and then deported.
Or should that be Brexit poulets? Many of the key issues seem to involve our ongoing entente with the French, which the B-word has made considerably less cordiale.
Take the UK’s desire to give its massive financial services industry access to the single market, something that was fine in the days before you-know-what. The good news is that our amis over the Channel are ready to help us reclaim that in negotiations with the EU. The bad news is that to do so we will have to allow French fishermen access to Jersey’s fishing grounds, the scene of protests a couple of weeks back.
While Boris Johnson ponders this Catch Vingt-Deux, Brexit zealots now insist that neither fishing nor the single market will matter a jot on the sunlit uplands ahead. Matthew Lynn of the Telegraph called the fishing industry that was supposed to be saved by Brexit “an irrelevance”, adding, “Cornwall and St Helier are hardly crucial to the 21st century economy we are meant to be trying to create. He went on to claim the “EU market is no longer worth making any concessions for”, and who can doubt him when financial services are only worth a measly £130billion or so a year, with a third of exports going to the EU?
Meanwhile, the drip of financial services jobs from London to Paris is becoming a threatening trickle. Morgan Stanley will have moved 200 positions there by the end of the year, and aim to have 400 by the end of 2024. JP Morgan is shifting another 200 London staff to the EY this year, mostly to the French capital. Barclays is expanding in Paris too. In total, Brexit has created around 2,500 new financial services jobs in Paris so far, as well as the transfer of €170bn in assets to the French capital. Well done, everyone.
Perhaps the locals will thank us for this unexpected Brexit dividend when we visit friends and family who have relocated to France this summer. As long, that is, as our hosts have remembered that ‘third country rules’ now mean that they need to apply to the maire of their local area at least a month in advance to get an attestation d’accueil for their guests, a tedious and costly process that involves filling out forms, digging out documents and paying a fee before we can travel.
Bonnes vacances à tous, et merci Brexit!
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