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‘Independence if Brexit goes bad’

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GUERNSEY should consider full independence if Brexit goes badly, according to prominent businessman and local resident Jon Moulton.

Jon Moulton. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 22407834)

His comment comes amid uncertainty as to how any Brexit deal between the UK and European Union could affect Guernsey.

Writing in today’s Guernsey Press, Mr Moulton also set out how the island could prosper over the next decade and suggested the need to consider ‘radical ideas’ to maintain the financial services industry, not least to ensure funding for key public services.

Declaring islanders were ‘blessed’ with such a pleasant home, he said: ‘I would like to see a culture of compassionate self-reliance – those

who can contribute to the economy should be encouraged

to do so and others should be sensibly supported.

‘I would like to see an island that is proudly independent (if Brexit goes badly then perhaps fully independent). And with its own high standards of integrity in public and commercial life.’

Meanwhile, a ‘robust’ finance industry and an ‘attractive’ tax system were key to ensuring prosperity from the efforts of islanders to attracting wealthy people to live in Guernsey.

‘If we have a failed financial services industry in 10 years’ time, then there would be serious depopulation. There is no alternative activity visible to replace finance,’ said Mr Moulton, who also stressed the importance of good regulation.

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‘Brexit is a big unknown – good and bad things for the island could occur in a complex mix. Rapid and intelligent response to events will be required from the regulators.

‘We may need to consider radical ideas to maintain the financial services industry. Perhaps London and Brussels will generate quite different rulebooks for the future - in which case perhaps we might need to run two regulatory streams of financial business - a bit like rugby league and rugby union.’

In his article, the businessman said that ensuring access to the island ‘as easy and painless as possible’ was vital. Rules that govern the island should be simple and an oversized public sector avoided as well.

‘Government should be friendly with a human face – not an impenetrable website. It would be good to see simplification of residence rules and the housing rules - 10 years should suffice to get this done!’

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Mr Moulton’s comments come as the States continues its Brexit preparations.

Last week, a Policy & Resources spokesman said: ‘The States of Guernsey has been working towards every possible outcome of the UK’s exit from the EU, including the prospect of no-deal.

‘An orderly exit for the UK is in Guernsey’s interest and we are working to ensure that plans are implemented to mitigate any risks caused by a no-deal scenario on 29 March 2019.

‘This planning is being done in conjunction with the UK Government.’

See Business tab for Mr Moulton's full views

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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