When Sergei Skripal pushed down on the door handle of his home in Salisbury in March, and walked across the threshold, we can be certain that he had no idea of the effect that everyday action would have on a tiny British island many miles to the south.
Although clearly not the actual starting point, we can conveniently link the chain of events from that moment – which it’s believed was how the Russian poison was administered – through the obligatory, tit-for-tat, diplomatic expulsion game which followed, and then to the House of Commons where Jersey narrowly escaped being included in a new bill forcing publication of all company ownership registers.
Crown Dependencies: 1 – Overseas Territories: 0
But the pressure is increasing, a point proved by the recent Foreign AffairsCommittee report for the UK government, stating that Jersey only has autonomy on specifically “devolved” matters; presumably a bit like Wales, just with fewer sheep – but, conveniently, when dealing with alleged money laundering (were we?) it’s a matter of national security, and therefore something the UK can legislate on for us. So there. Really?
It’s amazing how centuries of constitutional independence can be eroded in one push of a door handle – just to suit the needs of political expediency.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s a fascinating time for the island, and on page 18 of this edition, we get the inside track on how a team of dignitaries from Jersey made a last-minute dash aroundkey influencers in Whitehall ahead of therecent Commons vote.
The fact that despite their prior preparation, the threat came out of the blue, demonstrates how precarious the coming months may be, as Jersey searches desperately for a firm footing on the shifting sands of allegation, rumour and political agenda.
Facts will become a precious commodity, and in that ‘dynamic’ trading environment, the island will have to be certain that there is nothing in the bank which will undermine those who need certainty with which to champion the island’s case.
Is that currently the case? Can it ever be? Complacency is the enemy, and it’s one Jersey tends to get beaten by, every time.
Enjoy Connect – it’s safer than touching door handles in Salisbury.