UK Lord questions Michael Gove over treatment of Crown Dependencies during Brexit negotiations

It comes after the House of Lords approved a fishing bill which in effect gives the UK powers to legislate over the Crown Dependencies. Credit: ITV Channe News

A member of the House of Lords has written a letter to UK Minister Michael Gove questioning whether the Channel Islands interests are being considered in Brexit negotiations. It comes after the House of Lords approved a fishing bill which in effect gives the UK powers to legislate over the Crown Dependencies.

Both Jersey and Guernsey's governments have called the clause unwanted and unneccessary and say, despite the bill, they will still keep control of their waters.

A number of peers questioned why the clause was included, including Lord David Pannick.

Now, in response to the decision Lord Kinnoull, Chair of the Lords EU Select Committee wrote a letter to UK Minister Michael Gove.

It stresses that the Crown Dependencies' concerns and priorities should be properly taken into account by the UK negotiators.

The UK Government has a constitutional responsibility to represent the interests of the Crown Dependencies in the Brexit negotiations, and must continue to fulfil its constitutional obligations to represent the interests of the Crown Dependencies in international relations, even where these differ from those of the UK, both during the Brexit negotiations and beyond.

Lord Kinnoull, Chair of the Lords EU Select Committee

Within the letter to Michael Gove, Lord Kinnoull asks 11 questions and has asked for a response by 3 December 2020.

The questions include:

  • What steps has the Government taken to ensure that the concerns and interests of theCrown Dependencies have been taken into account during the future relationshipnegotiations with the EU?

  • Will any UK-EU future relationship agreement take account of the CrownDependencies’ unique relationship with the UK and the EU, including the ChannelIslands’ bilateral relationship with France?

  • What steps are you taking to protect the Crown Dependencies’ trade in goods with theEU, in particular in fisheries, agriculture and manufacturing?

  • How is the Government taking into account the specific interests of the CrownDependencies in relation to any UK-EU agreement on fisheries, in particular given that aPermissive Extent Clause was added to the Fisheries Bill against the objections ofGuernsey and Jersey, which the Constitution Committee argued undermines thedomestic autonomy of the Crown Dependencies and is contrary to long-standingpractice?

  • Can you elaborate on the Government’s intention to establish a committee with theCrown Dependencies to discuss implementation of international obligations, including inrelation to fisheries obligations?

  • What consideration are you giving to the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from theLondon Fisheries Convention on Guernsey’s fisheries industry and its engagement withthe French fisheries industry?

  • What steps will you take to ensure that the UK continues to provide support to theCrown Dependencies in their discussions with the EU about financial servicescooperation, equivalence and related matters?

  • What account are you taking of the impact of UK withdrawal on the ability of EUcitizens to reside and work in the Crown Dependencies, given the particular impact onthe agriculture, health, financial services and tourism sectors?

  • What steps are you taking to ensure that the Crown Dependencies’ existing dataprotection cooperation, transport and communication links, and energy cooperationwith the EU are able to continue?

  • How are you taking account of the requirement for the Crown Dependencies tocomplete their own internal consent procedures before the end of the transition periodto the terms of any future relationship agreement applying to them?

  • How is the Government keeping the Crown Dependencies fully apprised of, and are yougiving them an opportunity to participate in, future UK-third country free tradeagreements?