Island Life   

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Independence - who wants it?

There has been increasing debate about whether the Channel Island should move towards independence, not least from the Bailiffs of Guernsey and Jersey, the Senior Judge and Presiding Offcier of each of the island’s parliaments, the States of Deliberation. Guernsey Bailiff Sir Geoffrey Rowland spoke in April 2011 about the future of the nearly 1,000-year-old relationship with the English Crown. “I would predict we would remain in exactly the same place as we do in our relationship with the Crown. But all the time we’re maturing as a society and it’s important we become more distant, it seems to me, from Her Majesty’s Government.” He added “I believe that’s what we would aspire to, but that doesn’t mean independence. It’s always right to contemplate what issues there would be if ever we had to seek an independent status. I really don’t see it as being something that is even on the horizon at the moment.”

Sir Phillip Bailhache, the former Bailiff of Jersey, said in 2010 “I think that we ought to be preparing for the possibility that it might be in the interests of the island, at some stage in the future, to become a sovereign state, but that doesn’t affect our relationship with the Crown.”

The Channel Islands and the British Royal Family have connections back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William, Duke of Normandy conquered England. The islands were already annexed to the Duchy.

Roger Perrot, a former Guernsey advocate, said: “There’s always been allegiance to the Crown. “The problem is that in practice what’s happened is there has been a sort of hijacking of that relationship by the government in the UK on behalf of the Crown. That’s where, as far as I’m concerned, any problems have arisen.”

Guernsey needs to establish an independent identity from the UK, according to the island’s advisor on European Union matters. Alastair Sutton was speaking in October 2010. “One of the island’s problems was being perceived as an integral part of the UK and not a separate entity with its own agenda. It’s a big task for a small jurisdiction to do.”



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