Such talk has grown louder in the wake of Britain’s decision to end its reciprocal healthcare agreements with the three crown dependencies – Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – as well as its unexpected announcement in October to slash the IoM’s annual revenue-sharing agreement by 24%, or £140m.
As reported here, last Wednesday’s meeting between Gibraltar chief minister Peter Caruana, Jersey chief minister Terry Le Sueur and Guernsey chief minister Lyndon Trott took place in Gibraltar, and was officially described as “a fact-finding and familiarisation visit in relation to taxation, [the] EU, financial services and political matters”.
Manx Radio, an Isle of Man radio station, today has an item on its website asking “Are the Channel Islands preparing to split from the UK – and if they did, could we be next?”
It features a link to an audio interview with an island resident who lived in Gibraltar in the past, expressing the opinion that “the Chanel Islands are looking for independence”, and citing past Jersey Evening Post stories that he said suggested ministers there should prepare to go it alone.
On 21 January, the JEP quoted former bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache as saying that Jersey ministers should prepare for independence from the UK "as the constitutional relationship between the two jurisdictions worsens".
The story, headed "Ministers ‘must prepare for Jersey independence’, was based on an item Sir Philip wrote for the Jersey and Guernsey Law Review. It noted that he criticised Jersey’s ministers for "ignoring a two-year-old report recommending that research and preparation for independence be carried out".
In the online version of the story, 103 comments have been posted below it.
Talk of independence is also heard in the Cayman Islands, where an editorial in the Cayman Net News in December asked “Will independence ever be the answer?"
“Although the question of independence has not yet been raised with any great fervour, there are people of influence in these islands who support – at times not so secretly – the notion and who accordingly promote and support those politicians who may be similarly inclined,” the editorial, which was not signed, said.
It went on: "Who is to say that we will benefit anyway if we remain under British rule, given the independent spirit [shown by] the Caymanians in dealing with their economic and social affairs, for example, in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.
"Even Grenada, which is a fully independent nation, got more hurricane relief aid from Britain than Cayman."