Jersey should be a 'Crown Territory', says Deputy

94180201 (37500827)

THE government should open discussions with counterparts in Guernsey and the Isle of Man to ask the UK government to restyle the three islands as “Crown Territories”, a former External Relations Minister has argued.

Deputy Sir Philip Bailhache, Jersey’s first “foreign affairs minister” and Bailiff for 14 years until 2019, said that calling the islands Crown Dependencies was more than just a matter of semantics.

“I think it’s important because ‘dependency’ gives the wrong impression to Members of Parliament as to our constitutional relationship. MPs, generally speaking, don’t know much about the constitutional relationship.

“Jersey is an island 100 miles across the sea, and if they are told that it is a Crown Dependency, it gives the impression that we are under the control of the UK in a constitutional sense. We are not, so I think it’s important. We ought to be agreeing with Guernsey and the Isle of Man as to what is the way forward and making an approach to the UK government.”

Deputy Bailhache (pictured), who floated the idea of Crown Territories recently in an interview with Manx Radio, said he did not think the UK would resist such a move, pointing out that the British Overseas Territories – which include Gibraltar, the Falklands and the British Virgin Isles – successfully changed their name from Dependent Territories in 2002.

“They took exception to the word dependent and they are now called the Overseas Territories. I don’t think there would be any objection from the UK in changing the designation to Crown Territories because I’m sure the UK would agree it’s more reflective of our current status,” he said.

Commenting on the “organic” nature of the Island’s unwritten constitution, Deputy Bailhache said he believed that Brexit had impacted adversely on the Island’s autonomy and that efforts should be made to address that by seeking increased opportunities to act internationally.

“Formerly we had our own independent relationship with the EU and European countries; now, our relationship, certainly with the EU, is governed by the treaty which the UK has with the EU and which has been extended to us. That has, to an extent, diminished our autonomy, which is a pity. I think the government ought to be working harder to develop our authority to act internationally by seeking more entrustments from the UK government, and perhaps even taking that further in seeking to act more generally internationally,” he said. He gave the example of bilateral investment treaties – or BITs – of the kind Jersey has signed with the United Arab Emirates.

“Such arrangements give us a status on the international scene which I think helps our economy generally because it puts us on the map so far as other countries are concerned, and that’s good for the business centre which Jersey is,” he added.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –