That is the belief of Ben Bendelow, chairman of the Basel Trust Corporation, who says that the move is entirely feasible and potentially desirable in today’s changing world.Speaking at a recent international conference organised by leading professional journal Offshore Investment, Mr Bendelow told delegates: ‘Independence for Jersey is not yet possible because of a lack of a discernible popular or national culture, most importantly at the centre of which is a strong desire for independence.
This is manifested by the lack of political will.’However, the question of independence could not be ignored, he said.
‘It should be carved on the forehead of all Jersey political leaders that “”power is never given – it is always taken””.’The world was changing dramatically, he said, and the matter had to be carefully considered – particularly in the light of the proposed reform to the relationship between the monarchy and the UK government.This was the key issue in deciding whether Jersey should seek full independence.
‘Jersey’s current constitutional position as a Crown dependency is ultimately safeguarded by the protection of the monarch being required to sanction all UK parliamentary acts.
Theoretically, if one infringed on Jersey’s current constitutional relationship, the monarch could refuse to sanction it,’ he explained.This was soon to change.
‘The role of the monarch in the UK constitution is undergoing considerable change, as indeed is the UK’s constitution itself.
Perhaps, because of this, Jersey’s links with the UK need to be carefully monitored and reviewed in the light of the evolving relationship between the UK government and the sovereign,’ he said.Commenting on the feasibility of independence, Mr Bendelow pointed out that the characteristics of a small independent nation did not necessarily include its own armed forces, an independent currency or a minimum size of population.’The key issues seem to be membership of a significant defence alliance, such as Nato, currency union with a major power or trade bloc, membership of a free trade group such as the EEA, and recognition by the UN,’ he said.’Jersey at the moment could fulfil the vast majority of these criteria on my personal checklist.
All it really lacks is the political will, and this is partly due to a lack of national identity arising out of the death of its unique culture over the last 40 years.’Speaking to the JEP, Mr Bendelow said that he first began considering the question of independence when the Island’s finance industry was challenged by the OECD.
At the time he was president of the Offshore Institute.He realised that one of Jersey’s biggest problems was that it did not have a voice in many international forums, unlike some smaller nations.
And the UK could not be relied upon to speak on the Island’s behalf.
‘The UK has separate interests.
We need to be able to fight our corner,’ he said.
‘The UK has got to look after 60 million people with bigger problems.’