The Conservatives have pulled out all the stops to defend the Crown Dependency of Jersey this week, even sending in two of the Royal Navy’s finest as disputes over fishing rights intensified.
HMS Severn and HMS Tamar were deployed to the Channel island in a bid to ‘de-escalate tensions’, much to the bemusement of people on social media.
The row with our ‘European friends’ erupted after the Jersey government said French fishing boats would be required to obtain a licence to fish in the island’s waters under the terms of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU which came into force last week.
It caused anger in French fishing communities, which complained boats that had operated there for years were suddenly having their access to the fisheries restricted, and led to Royal Navy boats being deployed for the first time since the “cod wars” in 1950s and 1970s.
Many people have been quick to point out the lengths the Tories will go to defend a tax haven, with Jersey ranked as the seventh most “aggressive” in the world.
The lengths Tories will go to in defence of a tax haven. pic.twitter.com/nCZDsYbsQ3— Russ Jones (@RussInCheshire) May 6, 2021
But the moves should come as no surprise given the party’s vested interests on the island.
In 2015 it was revealed that David Cameron’s father helped manage funds on Jersey, which caused some discomfort for the then prime minister who had been calling for a crackdown on tax avoidance, branding some schemes “morally wrong”.
In a speech to leaders of British tax havens in Downing Street Cameron had said: “Let’s be clear about why this tax issue matters. I mean, if companies don’t properly pay their taxes, and individuals don’t properly pay their taxes, we all suffer as a result. So it’s important we do get our own house in order.”
The Conservatives were also revealed to have accepted donations from European Land and Property, which is based on Jersey.
The links, which extend beyond that particular island, could have something to do with them pulling a financial services bill from the House of Commons in 2019 which would force Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man into greater tax transparency.
MP Andrew Mitchell said the government had pulled the bill “in face of certain defeat”. Wonder why….