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Brexit Is Felt Throughout The British Territories

B.A. Political Science, Member of®

Brexit Is Felt Throughout The British Territories

                Brexit will not only have social and economic consequences on the United Kingdom, but this will also be felt throughout the British territories. The British Crown once ruled over a quarter of the Earth; nowadays, Her British Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 2, is sovereign over the United Kingdom, Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man, and 14 British Overseas Territories. In the event that Brexit becomes reality, these Crown territories will have to get used to new rules made by the British withdrawal from the European Union. British territories could get separate deals with the European Union in order to safeguard their economic prosperity and keep their special relationship with neighbouring E.U. members. Some British Overseas Territories and Dependencies are unclear about their social and economic future if Brexit ever happens.

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                To begin with, the British Empire was the largest the World has ever seen. Britannia once ruled over a quarter of the World. There were about 412 million people living in Her Majesty`s colonies, protectorates, and dominions at the heights of the British Empire in the early 20th Century. This was the time when the Royal Navy ruled over the seas; this surely was a great strategic advantage for Britain. This nation once ruled over all over the World which justified the famous quote: ¨the sun never sat over the British Empire.¨ Consequently, this was the heyday of British influence on the World stage. Dominions and colonies were granted parliamentary institutions based on the Westminster system after World War 1. Nowadays, there are just some remnants of the British Empire in the World which includes 14 territories and some dependent territories in the British Isles. The U.K. is responsible for the defence and foreign affairs of these territories. The latter remains loyal to the British Crown and they want to remain part of the British family. Besides, Britain’s E.U. membership has contributed to the economic wealth of these dependent jurisdictions. Therefore, Brexit could slow or reduce economic growth of British territories.

                For that reason, Brexit might have a very negative effect over the British island of Anguilla that highly depends on its French and Dutch neighbours in the Caribbean. For instance, Anguilla can use an important airport in the Dutch part of St. Martin. Airplanes landing on this island carry letters and parcels for Anguilla. Besides, Anguillans often travel outside of the island to receive medical treatment not available at home. This British territory also receives development funds from the European Union. As a result, the European Union grants have contributed to the development of the social safety nets and economies of these territories. Nevertheless, this European Union assistance could end once the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. Besides, overseas territories enjoy free trade with the E.U.

                Furthermore, Brexit could impede freedom of movement between the British territories and E.U. nations. For instance, Bermudians enjoy full British Citizenship that allows them to travel, work, or move in the European Union without any restrictions. Nevertheless, not all British overseas nationals enjoy full British citizenship status; however, most British nationals in these dependent jurisdictions enjoy benefits provided by E.U. membership. British overseas citizens would have preferred to keep their privileges provided by Britain’s E.U. membership.

                In addition, Crown dependencies, such as the Isle of Man, enjoy free trade with the E.U. because these territories are part of the E.U. customs territory according to the 1972 European Treaty of Accession. Therefore, Brexit will end this special agreement with the E.U. On the other hand, these territories are free to sign free trades with any nation; therefore, Crown dependencies could sign a free trade agreement with Brussels regardless of Brexit.

                Nonetheless, British Overseas Territories will have less representation in Brussels because these dependent territories will lose their E.U. connection. Therefore, these Crown dependencies will have less influence over Europe and lose some benefits granted by Brussels. Thus, this small scope of influence for the British territories could hurt their economy over time.

                Also, several British territories provide financial services to Europeans. For instance, the Cayman Islands` financial sector accounts for $2.35 billion which employs roughly 41% of its total population. Therefore, Brexit might affect the Island`s financial institutions to sell financial services and goods to Europe. Therefore, Brexit could greatly hurt the Cayman`s economy. For that reason, the territories will have to negotiate deals with the European Union in order to make sure it keeps some economic stability once the U.K. leaves the E.U.

                Finally, Brexit is felt throughout the British family. Crown territories will have to face the Brexit challenge by negotiating with the E.U. Brexit deals customized for their needs. They need to keep their social and economic ties with other European dependent territories while remaining close to the United Kingdom. These small countries are proud of their British heritage and they have been very loyal to the British Crown; therefore, Britain must listen to their concerns about Brexit and it should take proper actions to protect social and economic interests of these British territories. The U.K. has important responsibilities towards them and the territories` success also is Britain`s success. A no deal Brexit could hurt very badly the dependent territories and London has to work in the best interests of these islands while leaving the European Union.


March 11, 2019

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Yannick B. Vallée
By Yannick B. Vallee

Yannick B. Vallee is a political scientist who recently graduated from Bishop’s University (Quebec, Canada) in the BA program of political science. He also has a college degree of Business Administration with a specialization in marketing. Nowadays,  he specializes in American, Canadian... (Read next)

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