The Crown Dependencies are not part of the UK; nor are they part of the EU. But the UK leaving the EU will affect them in many ways. We consider their priorities, the Government’s procedures for engaging with and representing them, and whether the Government is prepared for the pressures and conflicts that might arise as the UK’s departure from the EU intensifies.
Financial services, agriculture, and fisheries are among the Islands’ economic sectors for which Brexit might have implications; policy on border controls and immigration could also be affected. We observe that some of these issues, including agricultural licences to export outside the EU, must be addressed urgently to provide certainty in advance of the point of Brexit (as orders will be placed for 2019 in 2018), and recommend that the Government report back on its progress on these by March 2018. The Crown Dependencies’ primary priority, however, is to preserve their existing relationships with the UK, including their overarching constitutional relationship. We warmly welcome this and recommend that the Government reaffirms, in its response to this report, that there will be no changes to these relationships.
Achievement of the Crown Dependencies’ aims in Brexit negotiations will require regular opportunities for them to explain their interests to relevant departments, who must have some familiarity with the Islands’ constitutional position—and a willingness to listen. All have welcomed their engagement with the UK Government on Brexit so far. However, this may be more difficult to maintain as negotiations progress.
Engagement encourages—but does not entail—representation, which could become awkward were the interests of the UK and the Crown Dependencies to diverge. The current approach does not guarantee that such a scenario would be handled satisfactorily, and is unclear in ways that might become unhelpful to the Islands. We recommend that the Government clarify its position on representing any of the Crown Dependencies’ interests that differ from the UK’s own in Brexit negotiations and thereafter.
24 March 2017