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"British Links Are Best" Says Manx Government

Robert Lee, Tax-news.com, London

10 November 2000


The Isle of Man government this week issued a press release in which it ruled out the possibility of the island seeking independence from the UK, at least for the time being. It opened: 'the Council of Ministers of the Isle of Man has officially decided: Independence from Britain should not be pursued.'

The Council of Ministers, led by Donald Gelling, the Chief Minister, had commissioned its Constitutional and External Relations Committee to look at what independence would entail and its implications. The ensuing report has now been been presented to, and adopted by, the Council of Ministers. The report, which took 30 months to prepare, goes before the Isle of Man parliament, Tynwald, later this month. It does not, however, discount the possibility of the Isle of Man seeking independence at a later stage.

Here is the full text of the government press release:

The Council of Ministers of the Isle of Man has officially decided: Independence from Britain should not be pursued.

The Council, headed by Chief Minister Donald Gelling, commissioned its Constitutional and External Relations Committee to look at the implications of independence and their report has been presented to, and adopted by, the Council of Ministers.

This report sees the present relationship as being the best for the Island in the current circumstances.

A little more than a decade ago the Isle of Man adopted its present, modernised constitution, combining a high degree of independence in matters relating directly to life on the Island with close formal links with Britain on wider issues.

Since then the Isle of Man has grown its employment, social services, personal incomes and company profits faster than ever before. At the same time the Island has put in place fair but firm regulations governing its status as an international finance centre - which have helped to win it six major awards as the world's leading offshore finance centre.

The Council of Ministers had little doubt in advance as to what the findings of the Inquiry were likely to be, but believed nevertheless it was their duty to the Manx electorate to have the core constitutional issues carefully scrutinised rather than taken for granted.

Chief Minister Donald Gelling:

"Independence is not on our agenda - it is not in our best interests.

The Isle of Man is the fastest growing economy in Europe. We combine low taxes with high public spending on community essentials like schools and health.

So we had little doubt that our present constitutional structure was the best for the Manx people - everyone can see that it works, very well.

But the duty of a prudent administration is always to weigh up the best interests of its people. That is why the Council of Ministers commissioned the report into the pros and cons of independence versus the status quo.

The findings are clear, and much as we anticipated. Independence is not a sensible option in our present circumstances. The overwhelming evidence is that the present constitutional structure gives the Isle of Man the best of both worlds: freedom to take our own decisions on issues that matter most to us combined with our traditional close ties with Britain - ties that are historic but just as relevant now as they always have been.

I am happy to add that our relations with other major jurisdictions and with international bodies such as FAFT and the OECD are very constructive. For this reason I am confident that the Isle of Man will not feature in next summer's OECD "blacklist" and that our continuing economic growth is assured".

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