With Brexit preparations costing Guernsey huge amounts of money, despite residents not getting a vote… Should the island be getting a bigger say in negotiations?
That’s the view of Isle of Man politician Kate Beecroft MHK, who is pushing for better representation for her island – and thinks all Crown Dependencies would benefit from working together so they get a proper seat at the table.
This week, she’s asked Manx Ministers to examine their system of external representation and consider amending the Isle of Man’s legal status to give it “independent recognition in international law, while retaining its precious links with the United Kingdom.”
The move, Mrs Beecroft told Express, is largely based on a 2014 report by the House of Commons’ Justice Committee.
Kate Beecroft MHK, who thinks the Crown Dependencies deserve to have their interests better represented.
It found that, while “the primary duty of the UK Government is to negotiate in the UK’s interest… where the Crown Dependencies have a distinct view on a matter which is significant to them, the UK Government has a duty to ensure that their case is heard in the negotiations.”
While little changed as a result of the finding at the time, Mrs Beecroft said that, in a post-Brexit landscape, it is now more important than ever for the Crown Dependencies to enforce this view and ensure the voices of citizens and businesses are properly heard.
“We’re very secondary to the interests of the UK. The UK’s are primary. If theirs are different to ours, then hard luck – but it shouldn’t be,” she said.
Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man aren’t official members of the EU, but enjoy some benefits as a result of a link to the UK, as set out in Protocol 3 of the UK’s Treaty of Accession.
As a result, while they weren’t able to take part in the 2016 referendum, the Crown Dependencies – all of which are home to significant financial services sectors – nonetheless stand to be hit by the UK’s eventual withdrawal from the EU, and even harder so in a ‘no deal’ scenario.
MP Rory Stewart is going to examine Crown Dependencies further, he said. Image from the Press Association.
In addition to seeking support from her fellow House of Keys Members, Mrs Beecroft has also written to UK MPs.
She has since received a response from Rory Stewart MP, who, while admitting he did not have much knowledge on the issue, said he would investigate it in greater depth and also offered to meet Mrs Beecroft on the Isle of Man for further discussion.
Pictured: Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, second from right, is Guernsey's representative in foreign affairs.
But Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, the Policy & Resources member with responsibility for foreign affairs, said Guernsey had already been making moves to take better charge of its international relations. It was already ahead of the Manx government in that regard, he suggested.
"In 2016 the States of Guernsey agreed a series of proposals by the Constitutional Investigation Committee seeking greater responsibility in international relations and the legislative process," he said.
"These recommendations built on the work undertaken by the Justice Committee reports on the Crown Dependencies in 2010 and 2014. This work is ongoing and recent developments have included the issuance of a letter of Entrustment for a reciprocal social security agreement with Latvia. This will be the first agreement of its kind negotiated under entrustment. In June 2019, the States agreed amendments to the Guernsey Reform law to strengthen our legislative processes.
“We have long recognised that the importance of this work has been heightened by the UK’s exit from the EU. We have sought and been given assurance from the UK Prime Minister, at each milestone event of the Brexit process so far, that the UK will continue to take our interests into account and represent these even where those interests differ from the UK’s. We will be ensuring that we continue with this approach following the change in UK Prime Minister later this month.”
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