British PM Theresa May hails ‘special relationship’ & no, it’s not the one with the US

In fact, it’s with a group of islands nearer to France than the US – and with a history that stretches back nearly 1,000 years. 

The Channel Islands are made up of the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, and British Crown Dependencies but are not part of Great Britain. They were part of the Duchy of Normandy, and become linked to the English crown when William the Conqueror arrived at Hastings in 1066.

The self-governing bailiwicks each have their own elected assemblies, and don’t return MPs to the British parliament. In some aspects, the islands have acted more and more as states would – although they retain key links to the UK. The crown dependencies also include the Isle of Man.

They also didn’t have a vote in the recent Brexit referendum in the UK, although a chunk of islanders may have eligibility to vote depending on if they ever lived in the UK and how long ago that was.

But the fallout from Brexit is an issue for the Channel Islands, which have developed as financial services centres alongside tourism and other sectors. Access to markets, as with any economy, is important. So, leaders of the Channel Islands – such as Gavin St Pier and Jonathan Le Tocq – have been working hard to ensure their voice is heard in Westminster and in Brussels.

Letter from the PM

That work has resulted in a letter to the Crown Dependencies from new British prime minister Theresa May. She has given assurances that Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man (which is also a Crown Dependency) will be engaged in the process of the UK’s negotiations in relation to its exit and ongoing trade with the EU.

TM letter 1a

Special relationship

The historic and special relationship between the UK and the Channel Islands is also highlighted by Mrs May in her letter to Gavin St Pier, the chief minister of Guernsey.

TM letter b

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The Pea Stacks, Jerbourg, Guernsey 

(Main image: google maps)

 

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