Saturday, March 28, 2009


Jersey and Guernsey Contemplating UDI?

Devolution in the UK might have been introduced in a rather cackhanded way-why didn't anyone think though the West Lothian Question for example?- but it has provided a precedent and template for other bits of the UK who might wish to delcare UDI. We know Mebyon Kernow thinks Cornwall should be independent and there are occasionally murmurs of a parliament for Yorkshire, though no other part of the UK has seriously suggested it might want to hive off on its own.

So that's why I was fascinated by the article by Martin Kettle yesterday when he suggested that Gordon Brown's stated G20 objective of bashing tax havens is being taken seriously by Jersey and Guernsey:

In both Jersey and Guernsey, for example, the possibility of a declaration of independence from the UK is a very live issue indeed; legislative preparations are well advanced and could be triggered if London attempted to interfere with the islands' low tax regimes.

This raises the question of what kind of legislative restructuring do the Channel Islands have in mind? Is it a 'devolution' model? Or is a 'complete autonomy' model? Either way it would provoke a major constitutional crisis which would also have security and foreign policy implications.

I'm a bit puzzled by all this broohooha that Kettle is talking about. Surely the Channel Islands are independent kingdoms on a par with Man, and apart from certain archane constitutional laws Canada and Australia, anyway? I know they look to us for defence and foreign affairs, but apart from that they have their own parliaments and report direct to the Queen through the Privy Council, not to Brown. There's absolutely nothing he can do to affect their off-shore status, short of sending in the Army which might be considered an over-reaction.

How exactly would they issue a UDI when they are already the I part?
I think Acts of the UK parliament do affect thsm if they are specifically mentioned, so their tax status in theory could be legislated on. Or indeed anything else as they are technically 'Crown Dependencies'. But to legislate on anything but 'reserved Crown matters' I guess would provoke a huge row whichn any government would rather avoid. So I'd guess any coercive anti-tax haven action unlikely.
All very risky. Best leave them alone.

The move would be futile in any case. There are plenty of other tax havens.
There is no grass roots demand for a Yorkshire Parliament or any other regional assembly. If you remember, Prescott cancelled the referenda for the North West and York and Humber because they knew they would lose. Prescott also knew that the North East would say No but he had to go ahead on the off chance there might have been a low turn out and they scraped in like they did with the Welsh assembly vote. However, there is a demand for an English Parliament as you can see from the link
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