Jersey ready to be independent after tax row?

Queen in JerseyA senior Jersey politician has called for the island to "be ready to become independent" in the wake of a slew of political attacks and crackdowns on its tax schemes, it has been reported.

Sir Philip Bailhache, the island's assistant chief minister, wants officials to begin preparations for severing links with the UK, claiming the largest of the Channel Islands was getting a "raw deal".

Increasingly strained relations with the Westminster government over the last five years have made it "very plain" there is a clash of interests, he warned.

Jersey and Guernsey lost their High Court bid in March to stop the Treasury scrapping a tax loophole that allowed the Channel Islands to sell DVDs and CDs VAT-free.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week branded comedian Jimmy Carr "morally wrong" for using Jersey-based company K2 to avoid paying tax.

Sir Philip, speaking to the Guardian before the comments were made, said: "I feel that we get a raw deal. I feel it's not fair... I think that the duty of Jersey politicians now is to try to explain what the island is doing and not to take things lying down.

"The island should be prepared to stand up for itself and should be ready to become independent if it were necessary in Jersey's interest to do so.

"I hope that the constitutional relationship with the UK will continue. But if it becomes plain that our interests in fact lie in being independent it doesn't seem to me that we should bury our head in the sand and say we're not going to do that."

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