A British minister in charge of the Crown Dependencies has promised to explore allowing French tourists to travel to Jersey using ID cards instead of passports.
On his first visit to the island since being appointed parliamentary deputy secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice in September, Mike Freer MP said the impact of Brexit-related immigration measures on tourism had been one of the main concerns raised by his hosts.
After Foreign Relations Minister Philip Ozouf confirmed he had raised the issue in discussions with the French due to a sharp drop in tourist numbers, Mr Freer acknowledged the challenges posed by the issue.
He said: “The whole British family has a border policy [including Jersey] “
Mr Freer said he would discuss the matter further with Home Office officials upon his return to London.
“I’m not the decision maker for this kind of thing, I’m just a conduit between the Jersey government and Whitehall,” he said. “My role is to make sure the Crown Dependencies have a voice and there are people fighting their corner.
“I think we can have a good exchange of ideas – there are issues we can work through, and there are other issues we can have a vigorous discussion and agree to disagree – that’s a sign of a mature relationship.”
Mr Freer added that being in Jersey and being able to discuss the matter with ministers and senior officials helped to gain a deeper understanding of key issues, with MPs expressing hope that other representatives of the UK government might consider similar trips in the future.
The fishing relationship between Jersey and France was another topic discussed by Mr Freer during his visit.
“I think it’s much better on the fishing side, which is a testament to the amount of work put in,” he said.
Mr Freer said he also hoped to work more closely with Jersey in the future to explore opportunities to grow the economy, be it tourism, legal and financial services or agriculture.