Wealthy French 'patriots' won't flee to Britain: minister

19th June 2012, Comments 0 comments

France's Socialist government said Tuesday it was confident that patriotic business leaders would not flee the country over tax hikes, after Britain's prime minister offered to "roll out the red carpet".

"What I can answer to this statement from the British prime minister is that there are French bosses who are patriots, and there is a range of measures we will take in favour of business, measures that will support investment and encourage business to stay in France," European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Canal Plus television.

"There are measures that we will take that will promote investment and innovation and support growth," he said.

Hitting out at the Socialists' plan to introduce a 75 percent tax on annual income beyond one million euros ($1.26 million), Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that Britain would open its doors to fleeing tax refugees.

"When France sets a 75 percent top income tax rate we will roll out the red carpet, and we will welcome more French businesses which will pay their taxes in Britain," he said.

"That will pay for our public services and our schools," he added, during an address to business leaders at the G20 summit in the Mexican resort of Los Cabos.

Later the French Labour Minister Michel Sapin, also in Mexico for the G20, suggested Cameron's comment had just spilled out without much forethought.

After all, he joked, "I don't know how one can roll out a red carpet over the Channel, it risks taking on some water."

The head of France's MEDEF employers' association, Laurence Parisot, said the comment was probably a result of the "direct style of the English and of David Cameron in particular."

"I don't want French companies to walk on this red carpet," she told journalists in Paris.

"I want a strong French economy, I want a prosperous France," she said. "I also want there to be a French entrepreneurial spirit -- there should be no question of entrepreneurial spirit being the monopoly of our British friends."

© 2012 AFP

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