‘Don’t hitch your wagon to Jersey – you will be subsumed’

GUERNSEY ‘hitching its wagon’ to Jersey in the post-Brexit world would be a mistake, a former British trade minister has warned.

Lord Digby Jones. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29111836)
Lord Digby Jones. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29111836)

Lord Digby Jones said Guernsey had successfully ridden a number of different ‘horses’ when it came to trade issues, working for example with the UK and the EU in the past – and suggested the island could do this again in the future as the world economy pivoted to Asia.

Innovation and attracting global talent by making Guernsey’s quality of life unrivalled were also critical to the island’s economic success, said Lord Jones who was a speaker at a Brexit seminar organised by law firm Carey Olsen and held at St Pierre Park hotel yesterday.

Asked during the event if a unified Channel Islands approach to marketing financial services would work, he made his point forcefully. ‘Would you counsel Jersey and Guernsey to advertise globally with a unified approach as Team Channel Islands? I’d rather die,’ said Lord Jones. ‘I cannot see one advantage and I can see lots of disadvantages.

‘Guernsey would suffer from the big fella down the road who would make Team Channel Islands into Team Jersey very quickly, and it would not help us at all.’

In a podcast with the Guernsey Press's business editor after the seminar, he said: ‘Don’t hitch your wagon to Jersey. You will be subsumed. You will be taken over. Do not do that. You will end up with legislation that suits Jersey but not Guernsey.

‘Make a virtue of the fact that we are different, and try and get the best of both worlds. You have done it before many times. You can do it again.

‘Then there is one other thing, be a place for a quality of life. Guernsey’s far more concerned with the values of things than the price of things – and that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. The courtesy, the decency, the security.

‘Make the quality of life so good that the world’s talent wants to come and live here, want to bring their skills and bring they do here – and want to make it a place where they can make money, bring up their family in a thoroughly decent environment.’

Lord Jones, who moved to the island permanently last year, also praised the States of Guernsey’s Brexit team for playing a ‘blinder’ in negotiations – not least in securing a deal with France in relation to fishing. The local civil servant responsible should get a knighthood, he said.

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