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Spain's Basque region woos professional exiles as Brexit nears

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LONDON (Reuters) – Spain’s Basque region is seizing on Brexit as it tries to persuade highly skilled workers to move back home from Britain and redress a brain drain caused by a 2008-2014 economic slump.

The Basque autonomous region, a manufacturing heartland, said it wanted to attract some of the more than 125,000 Spanish-born professionals resident in Britain with perks such as income tax breaks and the chance to work with other professionals and academics in related fields.

The organisers of a Basque recruitment conference, to be held in London in October, said they were focusing on Spaniards working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Britain’s departure from the European Union provided “a wonderful opportunity to win back the talent the country lost during the Spanish recession,” the organisers said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that the rights of around 3 million EU citizens already living in the United Kingdom would be protected after Brexit. But net migration of EU nationals into the country has fallen sharply since voters opted to leave the bloc in a June 2016 referendum.

Last week, official advisers recommended that Britain’s government should prioritise attracting highly skilled workers with its post-Brexit migration policies with no preference for workers from EU countries.

(Writing by Elisabeth O’Leary; Editing by William Schomberg)

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