If UK voters decide to ditch the EU Jersey’s position in Europe and relationship with other European countries could be wrecked according to “foreign minister” Philip Bailhache.
At yesterday’s Chamber of Commerce lunch, the International Relations Minister said that if the UK holds a referendum in 2017 – as Prime Minister David Cameron has promised – a decision to quit Europe would have “profound consequences” for Jersey.
He was speaking just a day after backing down from an unprecedented row in the States Chamber with Chief Minister Ian Gorst and Treasury Minister Philip Ozouf over compliance with ant-tax abuse moves demanded by the UK.
But yesterday’s Chamber of Commerce lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel saw no trace of controversy or disquiet within the ministerial ranks.
Senator Bailhache stayed away from the subject of the politics around anti-money laundering measures in a speech about the work of the International Relations department, but said that the prospect of the UK leaving the EU would create issues for Jersey.
He said: “The significance for us is that if voters decide that the UK should quite the EU then our own relationship with Europe disappears.
“Our relationship with the EU is set out in the UK’s treaty of accession – if the UK is no longer part of it, our trading relationship with Europe goes too. We would have to have a new relationship and that would pose a considerable challenges.
“Of course, that may never happen – voters may decide that the country’s interests lie within the EU. But we are in a very sensitive and unpredictable area. The implications for Jersey of a UK decision to leave the EU would be profound and much work is being done in this area to ensure, as far as possible, that we are prepared for any eventuality.”
This week’s row in the States focused on Senator Bailhache’s disagreement with the Chief Minister’s proposition to hand over information about “non doms” with assets in Jersey to the UK taxman, saying it should only happen when the rest of the world signs up to the same deal.
Senator Bailhache claimed that the deal would cause “economic damage to Jersey” but Senator Gorst said that it was more important to protect the Island’s reputation as a responsible finance centre. In the end, Senator Bailhache withdrew his amendment but only after revealing that he had offered to resign over the disagreement.
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Jersey would still be a crown dependency, ruling itself, and being ( hardly ) answerable to any democracy. Gorst is correct this time on this issue, but should have accepted spit the dummy out Bailhaches resignation. With his fuedal attitude and being minister for Foreign affairs, and caught out publicly for not telling the truth, he is doing Jersey no favours abroad.