'High skilled' workers like bankers will be exempt from post-Brexit migration curbs

The Chancellor has suggested that “high-skilled” workers such as European bankers looking to take up jobs in the City of London will be unaffected by post-Brexit migration reports, according to reports.

The Telegraph quotes Philip Hammond as saying:

“We cannot accept uncontrolled free movement of people. That’s the political outcome of the referendum. I don’t think that needs to strike fear into the heart of Japanese financial institutions.

“We will use it [control over free movement] in a sensible way that will facilitate the movement of highly-skilled people between financial institutions and businesses to support investment in the UK economy.”

Hammond did not give details on what this system might look like, but Theresa May’s time in the Home Office could give some clues. Earlier this year May put in place a system forcing non-EU migrants to find a job paying at least £35,000 a year in order to move here.

The Chancellor was responding to a question on Japan’s post-Brexit message to Britain. In it, the Foreign Ministry warns Britain that Japanese investment in the UK could be threatened by the shape of the potential Brexit, saying:

“If Japanese financial institutions are unable to maintain the single passport obtained in the UK, they would face difficulties in their business operations in the EU and might have to acquire corporate status within the EU anew and obtain the passport again, or to relocate their operations from the UK to existing establishments in the EU.”

Banks and financial institutions have strongly lobbied the government to retain access to both the single market and free movement of people, both of which support the financial sector. Meanwhile, many Brexiteers want to curb the free movement of people, believing it is contributing to an immigration crisis in the UK.

Brexit Minister David Davis recently said that it was “very improbable” that Britain would be able to regain control of its borders and retain access to the EU single market, a statement the Prime Minister’s office distanced itself from.

If the UK does fail to retain passporting rights — which let financial services companies operate across the EU from the UK — there are fears that London could lose its status as the financial center of Europe.

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