A British Minister responsible for Crown Dependencies has pledged to consider allowing French visitors to travel to Jersey with identity cards rather than passports.
On his first visit to the island since being appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice in September, MP Mike Freer said the impact of Brexit-related immigration measures on the tourism had been one of the main concerns raised by its hosts.
After External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf confirmed he had raised the issue during talks with the French due to a sharp drop in visitor numbers, Mr Freer acknowledged the challenge the issue posed.
He said: ‘There is a border policy for the whole British family [including Jersey] but if it has serious ramifications, we need to sit around a table and look for a practical solution that could meet the needs of UK border control and Jersey’s economy.
Mr Freer said he would discuss the matter further with Home Office officials when he returned to London.
“I’m not the decision maker on something like this, I’m just a middleman between the government of Jersey and Whitehall,” he said. “My role is to ensure that Crown Dependencies have a voice, someone to champion their corner.
“I’d like to think we can have a good exchange of views – there will be issues we can work through, and others where we can have a solid discussion and agree to disagree – that’s a sign of a mature relationship.”
Coming to Jersey and being able to discuss the matter with ministers and senior civil servants has been beneficial in gaining a better understanding of the key issues, Mr Freer added, with the MP expressing hope that other UK government officials might consider doing so. similar trips in the future. .
Fisheries relations between Jersey and France were another topic addressed by Mr Freer during his visit.
“I think the situation with regard to fishing is much better, and that speaks to the amount of work that has been done,” he said.
Mr Freer said he also hoped to work more closely with Jersey in the future to explore opportunities for growth in the economy, whether in tourism, legal and financial services or agriculture.