A barrage of regulatory clampdowns and political attacks on the Channel Islands’ controversial financial industry has prompted one of Jersey’s most senior politicians to call for preparations to be made to break the “thrall of Whitehall” and declare independence from the UK.
Sir Philip Bailhache, the island’s assistant chief minister, said: “I feel that we get a raw deal. I feel it’s not fair … I think that the duty of Jersey politicians now is to try to explain what the island is doing and not to take things lying down.
“The island should be prepared to stand up for itself and should be ready to become independent if it were necessary in Jersey’s interest to do so.”
In a Guardian interview, he said strained relations with the UK over the past five years had made it “very plain” that Jersey’s interests were not always aligned with those of Britain.
“I hope that the constitutional relationship with the UK will continue. But if it becomes plain that our interests in fact lie in being independent it doesn’t seem to be that we should bury our head in the sand and say we’re not going to do that.”
For decades Jersey’s tax, legal and regulatory framework has been structured to draw in the financial activities of multinational businesses and wealthy individuals. But a growing backlash has seen politicians in the UK and elsewhere lashing out at aggressive schemes leeching tax revenues from the increasingly stretched public wallets.
The Island of Jersey is located in the Bay of Mont St. Michel, 14 miles from the west coast of France and 100 miles south of Great Britain.
It is the largest of the Channel Islands, measuring nine miles by five miles, and is divided into 12 electoral districts known as parishes. The capital town is St. Helier.The permanent population of Jersey as at the March 2001 census was 87,186.
HERE ARE 10 FACTS ABOUT JERSEY:
*The Island is neither part of the EU or the U.K.
*Sterling is the legal tender in Jersey. However,the Island has its own coins and notes.
*During the summer months Jersey is consistently the hottest place in the British Isles, with the temperature a few degrees higher on average than the mainland.
*Jersey has one of the largest tidal movements on earth, rising and falling by an average of 40ft (12m) with the islands landmass increasing by a third at low tide.
*Jersey has the highest per capita ratio of car owners in the world.
*New Jersey is named after Jersey as it was a gift from Charles II for the islands support during the English Civil War.
*The last land battle fought on British soil was between the French and Jersey Militia/Scottish Highlanders in The Royal Square in 1781.
*In 1768 the Jersey Chamber of Commerce was founded, the first in the British Isles.
*Jersey and the other Channel Islands were the only part of British soil occupied by the Nazis during World War II.