Ministers discuss Brexit with MPs at Labour conference

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Senator Sam Mézec said the majority of conversations he had with Labour MPs concerned Brexit but that he and External Relations Minister Ian Gorst – who also attended the conference – also explained the Island’s tax policies and its sovereignty.

The Reform Jersey politician – who is a member of the Labour Party – said that he was attending the conference in an official States capacity but had covered travel and accommodation costs himself.

The Senator has faced criticism on social media for attending the conference – thereby missing this week’s States sitting. Both Senator Gorst and Senator Mézec were absent from Tuesday’s States sitting on States business.

He said: ‘I’m not the External Relations Minister so this is not top of my brief. However, all ministers have a responsibility to represent and protect the interests of the Island.

‘I was asked to attend on States business as it made sense for me to go because I have good contacts in the party who were able to give me a line into people we might not have been able to meet otherwise.’

Among the politicians Senator Mézec discussed Jersey’s Brexit concerns with were Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. Senator Mézec said: ‘In the run-up to 29 March next year, it is important to engage with all parties as we don’t know who might form a government in the future.

‘There are British citizens that live in the Crown Dependencies and not the UK whose lives will be affected by Brexit. I managed to raise that point with the Shadow Foreign Secretary who seemed to understand our position.

‘There is perhaps a lack of understanding about what Jersey is and what it’s constitutional relationship with the UK is. The more information we can get out there, the better quality policies that, from our perspective, can be adopted.’

Senator Gorst added that it was vital for Jersey politicians to attend these conferences – particularly with Brexit looming.

‘I was glad to be able to represent the Government of Jersey at the annual Labour Party Conference alongside Senator Mézec.

‘We were warmly received by the delegates and MPs we met, and I found it a useful opportunity to reinforce positive messages about the Island and, where necessary, to correct any misconceptions.

‘This is the eighth year we have had representation at UK party conferences and I believe it is critical, especially in the context of Brexit, that we continue to engage as broadly as possible with UK politicians of all parties.’

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