Brexit has consequences for an eclectic collection of territories that are attached in different ways to the UK. They are mentioned in the Withdrawal Agreement, and they include
- Gibraltar (which took part in the Brexit referendum in the UK, and voted overwhelmingly to remain.)
- the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man
- the “Sovereign Base Areas” in Cyprus
- and finally the “UK Overseas Territories”, a diverse collection, mostly islands, scattered around the world: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Many of the UK Overseas Territories have benefited from the European Development Fund, but they will no longer have access to it after current commitments have been implemented. Some of these entities have tiny populations: Pitcairn, for instance, has a population of 50. Others, such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, are prosperous.
But when they have economies in a real sense, they are dependent on two main industries, financial services and tourism. Financial services are now the subject of growing international scrutiny. The UK territories are not independent sovereign countries and do not have a seat at the table in international negotiations., and the UK in the future may not be either as able or as willing to defend their interests. Of course, financial services in a tropical island may be seen as just a way of working from home, when the home is sunny and sweet. But they are in competition with other attractive but less remote locations, and the outlook must surely be rather gloomy, given the slow but steady shift in international governance, international tax policy, and public opinion.
As for tourism, the territories are dependent on air and sea links, the latter often involving cruise ships. Both these forms of transport at present benefit globally from a bizarre exemption from fuel taxation. This will surely change.