Guernsey a 'safe haven' amid Brexit uncertainty

30 June 2016

Guernsey's Chief Minister, Deputy Gavin St Pier, believes the Island is a 'safe haven' for financial services following the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Deputy St Pier was updating members of the Island's Parliament - the States of Guernsey - yesterday on the progress Guernsey had made since the 'Brexit' vote last week. Following his speech, a proposition was successfully passed by Guernsey's elected representatives to enable the Island's Policy and Resources Committee, which Deputy St Pier leads, to negotiate with the UK Government in order to:

i. protect Guernsey's interests in the UK exit agreement;

ii. replace Protocol 3;

iii. protect our constitutional relationship with the UK;

iv. look at, and take advantage of, new trading relationship opportunities

Deputy St Pier, along with the Chief Ministers of the other Crown Dependencies, has already written to the UK Prime Minister to highlight what the islands are seeking in terms of trading relationships. He has also spoken with Lord Faulks, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, who wished to reassure Guernsey that he and the Ministry of Justice would ensure that Guernsey's position was properly represented.

"He [Lord Faulks] regarded this as part of his role and that of his department. He emphasised the importance of recognising and preserving our constitutional position," said Deputy St Pier.

"Officers are also working closely with the UK Government and our Crown Dependency counterparts. The Prime Minister has also confirmed in his statement to the House of Commons on Monday, that the Crown Dependencies would need to be consulted - and this early recognition of our position is to be welcomed."

A call has also taken place with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who wants to maintain dialogue with Guernsey through the exit process.

"We have much better connections with Whitehall, Westminster, Brussels and other jurisdictions in 2016 than we had in 1972 [the year of the accession of the UK to the EEC]. We have invested in our relationships which will assist us in the coming weeks, months and years," said Deputy St Pier.

"In what seems like an increasingly unstable world we are, and I am confident will continue to be, seenfor what we are; an oasis of stability - a safe haven. We are a safe haven for financial services - in or out of the EU - and we are a safe haven physically for those who want to relocate here - or even just holiday here in peace and quiet."

Guernsey Finance Chief Executive Dominic Wheatley welcomed the clarity provided by Deputy St Pier on the steps Guernsey had already taken.

"It is important that the Island's finance sector continues to monitor developments closely, while at the same time recognising that while Protocol 3 makes us part of the Customs Union and within the Single Market for the purposes of trade in goods, for most services, such as financial services, we were already treated as a third country and that position has not changed as a result of Brexit," said Mr Wheatley.

"As Deputy St Pier says, Guernsey should be seen as an island of stability for financial services during this period of uncertainty. We already have an established third country relationship with the EU due to the fact that over a considerable number of years Guernsey has been able to demonstrate equivalence to EU standards and there is no reason to suggest that existing market access rights will be impacted."

Download Find a related practitioner