In rebutting suggestions that he or indeed the Isle of Man government have any say in which foreign Air Forces uses Ronaldsway for military training purposes the Manx Chief Minister (CM) Howard Quayle MHK averred:
“As you know, as a British Crown Dependency, under the Island’s constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom through the Crown, the UK is constitutionally responsible for the Island’s defence and international relations. The relationship with Saudi Arabia in respect of defence and other matters is therefore a matter for the UK Government.”
This seems pretty clear cut Mr Quayle is saying that the UK holds a rigid constitutional imperative in respect of defence and international affairs.
However just hold on a second here that means if the UK take a position on an external treaty or agreement then that would automatically apply in full to Mann. That being the case when the UK signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) how was the Isle of Man able to opt out of certain of its provisions for almost two decades. The opt out came because the Manx government told the UK it wanted it.
Take another International area International Labour Law back over two decades ago as a Union official I pressed the UK government on the fact that the Isle of Man was not a signatory to various International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions enacted by the UK and was told (as I had been in the 1980s over the ECHR by the Home Office) that the provisions could only be extended to Mann when the Manx government wished them to be.
There are a number of other examples but I won’t bore you with them unnecessarily.
Despite the Chief Ministers assertion that the Isle of Man is somehow tied umbilically to the UK in respect of international affairs it seems that in the past it has demonstrated a great degree of latitude.
One wonders how telling the UK you don’t wish to play host to the air forces of countries which routinuely murder and maim women and children will strain a relationship that has been remarkably flexible over the years.
Furthermore Mann’s constitutional bind in respect of the UK means we must cosy up to a regime one of whose leaders the CIA recently asserted was complicit in murder.
No wonder Mr Quayle does not want you speak about these issues but I’m up for a debate with him on constitutional niceties anytime!
Image; Controversial Saudi leader, Bin Salman