Jersey could exercise an option to sever its ties to the UK and consider independence, if terms for the Island’s relationship with the EU following a Brexit are unsatisfactory, according to its External Relations Minister.
As the UK comes to terms with last week’s shock referendum decision to leave the EU and the UK’s major parties continue to be in turmoil, Jersey’s External Relations Minister Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, said that if the terms, which would be negotiated by the UK on behalf of Jersey, were not in the Island’s best interest, then independence could be considered.
As was reported in last night’s Jersey Evening Post, the External Relations Minister said during yesterday’s quarterly hearing with Jersey’s Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel, that it was important for the Island to be prepared to make “whatever decision” is in the interests of the population.
Bailhache pointed that Jersey was initially offered terms for independence when Britain negotiated its entry to the European Economic Community in the early 1970s, but said it was unclear whether the Island would again face a similar option in the coming years.
In the report entitled: States of Jesery – Brexit Information Report, the Government of Jersey states a series of guidelines that it expects the UK to follow, before making its own decision as to where or not to remain connected to the UK.
Rights of EU citizens
In the report Bailhache says that Jersey would, “like the UK, have to decide on safeguarding the rights of EU citizens already in Jersey at the point of Brexit”.
Regarding Jersey’s constitutional autonomy, including its ability to set its own fiscal policy, the Common Policy for External Relations for Jersey outlined the broad framework for international dealings.
It stated that, for example, Jersey has had domestic autonomy since 1204, and acquired fiscal autonomy through a series of Royal Charters, and is a self-governing, democratic country with the power of self-determination.
The framework agreement for developing the international identity of Jersey signed by the United Kingdom and Jersey on 1st May 2007, states in particular that Jersey has an international identity which is different from that of the United Kingdom, and that the United Kingdom supports the principle of Jersey further developing its international identity.
Guernsey and the Isle of Man
Bailhache’s report also pointed that Guernsey and the Isle of Man may also have a similar decision to make regarding their ongoing connections to the UK, following last week’s vote to “Leave’ in the UK’s EU referendum.
It read: “The Government of Jersey is committed to working with the Governments of Guernsey and the Isle of Man to ensure a “favourable outcome to the negotiations and to securing the interests of Jersey.
“Meetings have been and will continue to be held at ministerial and official level to ensure as close alignment as possible in the forthcoming negotiations,” the report stated.
‘Act clearly and decisively’
In conclusion, Bailhache stated that the information paper was prepared “in order to set out to the people and businesses of Jersey its approach in the light the UK decision to leave the EU, and underlines its commitment to act clearly and decisively in the interest of the future of Jersey”.
To read the full report, click here.