The Isle of Man is as well positioned as possible at the start of the formal procedure for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.
That was the message from Chief Minister Howard Quayle MHK today, speaking after the UK triggered Article 50 to begin the legal Brexit process.
The Chief Minister said:
‘Today the United Kingdom is setting out on an historic journey which will change the future of Britain and Europe. The outcome remains uncertain, but the Isle of Man is as well prepared and well placed as we could be at at the start of the formal Brexit process.
‘Thanks to sustained hard work to build relationships and raise awareness of our position, the Isle of Man is now clearly on the radar of the UK’s considerations around Brexit. This has been confirmed in the recent letter from the Prime Minister herself, and the importance of our interests being recognised has been highlighted by influential committees in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.’
Mr Quayle continued:
‘The public and business community can be reassured that we are doing everything we can to promote and protect the Island’s interests, and that Brexit will not change our most important economic and constitutional relationship, with the United Kingdom itself.
‘These are historic events which will have a significant impact on the Island, but they are not of our making. We must take care, as ever, to nurture our relationships with our friends and allies in the UK who will take us through these next two years, and beyond, alongside them.
‘Indeed, later today I will again be speaking with Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU, who has been in regular personal contact to keep the Isle of Man up to date with the latest Brexit developments.’
The Chief Minister went on:
‘We will continue to make our own preparations, to keep engaging with the UK, across a whole range of policy areas, to ensure that those who will be negotiating on behalf of the UK, and the Isle of Man, know what is important to us.
‘My colleagues in the Council of Ministers and I will continue to be open in our discussions and provide updates to our fellow politicians and the public. We will provide a further Council of Ministers report on the state of play in the coming weeks.’
The Chief Minister said the Prime Minister had made clear her intention to begin the leaving process before the end of March, and she was sticking to that timetable. In January, she set out her aims for the United Kingdom in the withdrawal negotiations, as well as her aspirations for a new relationship between the UK and the EU. She spelled out that the UK would leave the Single Market, and also, leave the Customs Union.
Mr Quayle added:
‘We have done a lot of work in preparation for Brexit. As things become clearer we can refine our work and understand the likely implications more accurately. We won’t see any immediate change straightaway, as the EU now has to agree its own negotiating position. Those discussions will begin immediately, and it is anticipated that the position should be agreed by the end of April.
‘The report of the House of Lords EU Committee last week stressed the importance for the Isle of Man and other Crown Dependencies to be in the minds of the UK negotiators, and the Prime Minister wrote to me with the reassurance that this was so.’
The Chief Minister also noted the publication this week of the House of Commons Justice Committee report focussing on the role of the Ministry of Justice in ensuring that the relationship between the UK and Crown Dependencies is managed effectively.
The report was satisfied that this relationship is currently working well, but it questioned whether matters could become more problematic if negotiations ran into difficulties and UK and Isle of Man priorities were not aligned. The Committee has asked for the UK Government’s view on this and for a review of the situation in one year’s time.
The Chief Minister commented:
‘It is useful to have our issues set out in this way, and for us to receive the support of parliamentarians in Westminster, who have heard and raised our concerns about the way in which our priorities will be represented.’
The UK has also signalled its intention to publish its White Paper on the UK’s Great Repeal Bill tomorrow (Thursday). It will set out in more detail how the UK intends to deal with EU legislation which currently applies in the UK, whilst it is still a Member State, once it has left.
The Chief Minister said:
‘Senior officers have been examining how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and the loss of Protocol 3 will impact on our laws. This additional detail will allow us to finalise our planning for dealing with this part of the process. We can fine tune our work, and then move onto more detailed preparations, and amendment of our laws, to reflect our new position. This is a huge task, and so we began work early in the knowledge that we will need to make the changes over a relatively short period of time.’