‘UK is no longer lobbying for island inside EU tent’
FINANCE industry chiefs and the island’s government are forging individual relationships in European Union countries in response to the UK leaving the trading bloc.
Dominic Wheatley, chief executive of promotional agency Guernsey Finance, said that Brexit would mean a change in terms of the UK no longer being able to lobby for the island inside the EU ‘tent’, hence a move to develop relationships in EU member states.
While Guernsey was already seen as a ‘third country’ by the EU in terms of the finance sector, Mr Wheatley said it would be a mistake not to think that the UK leaving the EU on 31 January would not affect the island – including potential progress for Guernsey’s trading relationship with the UK.
‘It will be affected in my opinion in two ways. One is politically because the UK’s relationship changes in Europe. Therefore, the level of political support that we get inside the EU is going to change, be significantly reduced because the UK will not be on the inside of the tent lobbying for us on occasions. In the past that has been quite helpful,’ said the Guernsey Finance chief executive.
‘That’s one of the reasons why obviously the government here and industry here is looking to forge relationships in other European countries. Obviously, the Channel Islands Brussels office is a key part of that.
‘But also people have been looking to build relationships in individual countries, including, for instance, Ireland. So there’s no doubt that that is understood by our government and by industry here.’
He added: ‘The other way, of course, is in relation to our trading relationship with the UK.
‘What I think we would hope in that regard is that we can make progress on that alongside the negotiations that the UK is having with the EU rather than having to wait at the back of the queue while they sort everyone else.
‘Certainly the Guernsey Financial Services Commission and the States are having discussions with the regulatory bodies and government respectively in the UK, towards investigating or identifying with them the areas that we feel, we can provide benefits to the UK – and areas in which we think our trading relationships can be improved on.’