7 February 2015

This story began back in the summer of 2011. A report was commissioned on what Cornwall could learn from Guernsey in autonomous governance. I pointed out at the time that Guernsey was a tax haven and that, although it might be said that the interest was the government model not the financial model, I did not think they could be easily or at all separated. The economy and finance are central to the success of any constitutional entity in the world whether or not recognised formally in a constitution. I said that any idea of Cornwall aiming to learn from Guernsey, a tax haven, should be dropped.

I returned to that theme several times as more difficult news came in from the Channel Islands. Reality dawning, Cornish nationalism appears quietly to have dropped any interest discernible to outsiders in pursuing a Guernsey model.

Both Labour and the Conservatives want transparency from Guernsey and the other tax havens so that the real owners of assets can be identified. Three years ago Ed Miliband, the Labour leader damned Guernsey and other tax havens for letting companies and people “dodge taxes by hiding behind front companies and trusts” (Financial Times 15 January 2012, the newspaper’s words). Since 2013 David Cameron, the Tory prime minister, has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to end the hidden tax activities of the crown dependencies and overseas territories, places like Guernsey, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, and the Cayman Islands. Now Miliband has said that a Labour government will take decisive action against them within six months of the May 2015 election if they do not reveal who they are sheltering from British taxes: see here.

Guernsey is not a route Cornwall should aim to follow. The brief encounter is over.

Earlier post

Guernsey and Cornwall 31 August 2011 – this post links to all the others on this topic