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Engagement on Brexit ‘unprecedented’

Friday, 28 April 2017

The extent of the Isle of Man’s interaction with the United Kingdom over Brexit is highlighted in the latest Manx Government update on the issue.

The fourth interim report from the Council of Ministers on the implications for the Island of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is published today (Friday 28 April, 2017).

In the foreword, Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK remarks on the Isle of Man’s ‘unprecedented’ level of engagement with the UK on a number of fronts, to ensure that those who are formulating the detailed British negotiating position are aware of the Island’s concerns.

The UK Government, writes Mr Quayle, ‘is taking its responsibility to represent our interests seriously.’

The report confirms that the Chief Minister has tabled a motion for the May sitting of Tynwald so that Members can express their views on the issues around Brexit.

The Manx Government says one of the priority tasks over the next two years is reviewing and amending the Island’s laws to manage the effects of Brexit in such areas as customs and immigration. Hundreds of items of Manx legislation have already been identified as being in need of attention. 

Commenting on the publication of the report, the Chief Minister said engagement with the UK had continued this week when he had a further constructive meeting with Robin Walker MP, the Minister for Exiting the European Union.

‘The Island’s Protocol 3 relationship with Europe has served us well for over 40 years’, observed Mr Quayle, ‘Through it we have been part of the EU’s Customs Union and included in the Single Market for free trade in goods.

‘But now Protocol 3 will fall away and this relationship will end. This is set to happen on 30 March 2019 – so the clock is ticking and the UK general election is not expected to impact on the timetable for the Brexit process.’

The Chief Minister said the UK Government’s intention to sit outside both the Customs Union and the Single Market made it impossible to replicate Protocol 3. Instead the Island would seek to participate in a new Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU, and to look for opportunities as the UK negotiated trade agreements with other countries around the world.

‘The opportunities are likely to be commercial’, he explained, ‘New markets may open up for us, particularly in our stronger sectors like financial services or e-business. But there will also be risks, centred on the potential loss of trade in agricultural and manufacturing goods, resulting from increased tariff or regulatory barriers.

‘The ending of free movement of people from the EU means the Island will need to guard against difficulties in attracting new workers.’

The Chief Minister concluded:

‘Brexit could affect many areas of our lives and has the potential to bring significant political, economic and social consequences for our Island. 

‘Protocol 3 has been one of the cornerstones of our constitutional and external relations for over 40 years. What comes next will influence our continued ability to grow and make the Island a better place for people to live and work.

‘I stand by my statement that Brexit is the biggest challenge facing this Government – and I would add that this administration will be judged by generations to come on our handling of this issue.’ 

The fourth interim report from the Council of Ministers on the implications for the Island of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union is available on the special Brexit section of the Isle of Man Government website: Brexit - what next for the Isle of Man.

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