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Big finance firms want to stay after Brexit, says Chief Minister

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THERE is 'no great desire' within major financial firms – including those in Jersey – to move their business to continental Europe, the Chief Minister has said, as Brexit negotiations in the UK continue.

But Chief Minister Ian Gorst admitted that some businesses were making 'contingency plans' pending the outcome of Brexit talks, such as considering relocating sections of their business to Dublin.

He added, however, that he believed the structures in place in both London and the Channel Islands would ensure a strong finance industry remained once the UK had exited the EU.

Earlier this week, Robin Walker, the parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, visited Jersey to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on the Island.

Senator Gorst said that the meeting went 'very well' and had 'built on the strong relationship' between the Crown Dependencies – Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – had with the UK.

Mr Walker has previously said that despite some European cities wanting to attract financial-services businesses away from the UK, the financial hubs of London and the Channel Islands would both remain strong post-Brexit.

The Worcester MP added that a successful withdrawal from the EU was a 'clear priority' for the governments of both the UK and the Crown Dependencies.

French President Emmanuel Macron has publicly spoken, however, of his desire to lure London-based banks to Paris post-Brexit.

Senator Gorst said: 'Financial service businesses are developing contingency plans. We know for example that the number of applications for business in Dublin has increased since the Brexit vote but we are not seeing that in any great numbers.

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'We are seeing contingency plans being developed but people are waiting to see what the implications of Brexit will be. There is no great desire to transfer great chunks of business to Europe but they have to be prepared just in case.

'London is a world-class finance centre and Jersey is a finance centre that attracts money from around the globe, so we are already internationalist. We want to be outward-looking and we recognise that there are changes in Europe and we want to comply with international standards.'

The Chief Minister added that despite there being some uncertainty following the 2017 UK general election – which saw the Conservative party lose their overall majority – the issues concerning the Island were still being conveyed in Westminster.

He said: 'I have not seen any changes to the work we have been doing at all. We have worked closely with David Lidlington, who is now Secretary of State for Justice, and he was very clear that he wanted to ensure that the Crown Dependencies' voices are heard across government but also, if needed, in the Cabinet as well.'

During his visit to the Island, Mr Walker met members of the Island's finance, agriculture and fisheries industries, before a similar official visit to Guernsey.

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