London Still Needs Clever Financiers Post-Brexit, Davis Says

  • Brexit secretary: Immigration changes will take ‘a long time’
  • Says doors will not be shut to bankers, university researchers

Talented bankers will be welcome to move to the U.K. to work after the country leaves the European Union, Brexit Secretary David Davis said, as he promised it will take “a long time” to tighten migration rules.

On a diplomatic mission to Finland, Davis gave a reassurance that the British government will not follow U.S. President Donald Trump in trying to put up barriers to migrants because it would not be in the U.K’s interests to cut off the supply of skilled foreign workers. 

“Our economy depends on attracting bright, capable people to our universities, clever financiers to the City,” London’s financial district, Davis told reporters in Helsinki on Monday. “We will change the policies slowly, but it will take a long time -- it will not be a sudden change.”

Davis was speaking alongside Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini during the first official visit by a British cabinet minister to Finland since last year’s referendum on EU membership. The U.K. is seeking EU allies who will support Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to strike a comprehensive new free-trade deal in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, which she’s expected to trigger next month.

Businesses are concerned that they could struggle to hire the skilled workers they need as May attempts to cut migration from the EU. Davis said he wants the new EU-U.K. trade deal to ensure European citizens living in Britain will not be required to leave, while continuing to welcome skilled migrants in key industries.

“It is not in our interest to suddenly put up the barriers and say nobody can come,” Davis said. “The City demands high-skilled financiers; our universities, among the best in the world, need to be able to have professors and researchers. At the other end, our farmers need people who work in the fields, our social-care sector needs people, our National Health Service needs people.”

Soini said that “we are hoping of course all of us to have a good, decent deal to be done with the U.K.” and “we want to conduct the negotiation in a constructive spirit.”

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