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prepare for the possibility that it may one day be in our interests to become independent. If the UK were not to have constitutional responsibility for Jersey’s external affairs, we would cease to be a pawn to be sacrificed in the interests of the greater number. The problems would not all vanish – small


sovereign states like Liechtenstein, and even Switzerland, are amenable to the pressure of larger countries. But we would at least be able to articulate our position instead of having to rely upon the UK when their interests are different. This is not necessarily to advocate independence. But we should be ready for it. In Jersey, as in most other places, we


tend to take things for granted, to avoid uncomfortable issues, and hope they will go away if we don’t talk about them. Sometimes we seem to lack the confidence to stand up for ourselves and to think outside the box. There may be a comfortable assumption that the mother country will tuck us up in bed and look after us if anything horrible happens. That is an illusion. If people think the UK government is going to protect our


pensions, or look after depositors in our banks, or give our students home-country status in universities, or underwrite our health service, or any other part of the administration, they are badly wrong. Why should it? Until we elect to abandon our autonomy and become part of Hampshire, and pay CGT, surtax, VAT and so on, we’re on our own.


Discussion points What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a Crown dependency rather than a sovereign state? Well, defence is not really an issue – as we discovered in 1940, we are strategically indefensible. What about international representation? The Constitution Review Group estimated the annual cost of a small number of missions in key places such as London, New York and Brussels as being approximately £10 million. Is that too high a price for the ability to represent our own interests internationally? Does the perceived stability of being under the wing of the UK outweigh the


disadvantage of being coerced by the UK whenever their interests conflict with ours? Is there some halfway house that would guarantee our autonomy while remaining a Crown dependency? These important questions will be discussed at a conference organised by the Jersey and Guernsey Law Review on 17 September. In the meantime we should be reflecting


in an objective and measured way about our future constitutional status. The tectonic plates of European politics have shifted, and the only guarantee that our prosperity will continue lies in our own firmness of purpose. If we want to preserve our autonomy, we have to think about these constitutional issues and have the courage to assert ourselves. n


SIR PHILIP BAILHACHE was a Law Officer in Jersey between 1975 and 1994 and held the office of Bailiff of Jersey from 1995 to 2009. He was appointed as a Commissioner of the Royal Court in July 2009, and is the Founder and Chair of the Institute of Law





‘Dependency or Sovereignty? Time to take stock’ Jersey and Guernsey Law Review Conference


Keynote Participants: Friday 17th September 2010, Hotel de France, Jersey


Colin Powell, CBE


Mike Lagopoulos, CEO & Head of Wealth Management, RBC Europe Professor Alastair Sutton


Sir Andrew Wood, GCMG, Former HM Ambassador to Moscow


Professor Jeffrey Jowell, QC


Richard McMahon, QC, HM Comptroller (Solicitor General, Guernsey) Sir David Simmons, former Chief Justice of Barbados Sverrir Gunnalugsson, former Ambassador of Iceland Dame Heather Steel, DBE


For further details contact: Kirsten Higgins or Carl Methven Email: enquiries@businesslife.je Tel: 01534 615886


With the kind sponsorship of


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