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BVI calls on UK parliament to support modern partnership with overseas territories

From Caribbean News Now

From left: Senior political officer Siobhan Flax, special envoy Benito Wheatley, acting deputy director of the BVI London office Tracy Bradshaw, and chair of the OT APPG Andrew Rosindell, MP. (Photo provided)

ROAD TOWN, BVI — The UK government is being urged to back the renewal of a contemporary partnership between BVI Overseas Territories (OTs) such as the BVI.

Benito Wheatley, the special envoy to the British Virgin Islands, encouraged that partnership during a recent meeting at the House of Commons with Andrew Rosindell, MP, chairman of the Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

In the meeting, Wheatley said that the BVI is satisfied with the UK government’s judgment not to force the OTs, which includes BVI to end Belongership status, inter alia.

He said: “We welcome the UK government’s position stated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in its response to the FAC report that Orders in Council should not be used by the UK Parliament to force the Overseas Territories to adopt the proposals of the committee or to impose UK decisions on the Territories in areas of governance constitutionally devolved to them without their consent.”

“It is now time for the UK Parliament to support a renewal of the modern partnership between the UK and Overseas Territories based on the principle of self-governance and we hope there will be no further parliamentary moves to undermine the UK Government position that rejects the use of Orders in Council against the Territories.”

Wheatley also lauded Rosindell for what was reported as his long-standing devotion to the Overseas Territories and for respecting their constitutions.

“Andrew Rosindell, MP, has been a staunch supporter of a modern partnership between the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories and I thank him for his steadfast leadership as the Chair of the Overseas Territories APPG in sensitising the UK Parliament to the importance of upholding the principle of self-governance for the people of the Overseas Territories and respecting their constitutional arrangements and rights,” he said.

In related news, the UK government is said to be taking significant steps to mitigate against possible adverse impacts Britain’s exit from the European Union — a process known as Brexit — will have on the BVI.

Governor Augustus Jaspert gave this assurance at a media briefing:

“The key thing is making sure that the BVI’s interests are protected, and that is something I am regularly in touch with London about and the United Kingdom has given some very clear guarantees about making sure that all of the Overseas Territories — particularly the British Virgin Islands — are protected and put forward during the period when they’re working through exit from the European Union,” the Governor said.

Jaspert said many of the benefits that the BVI currently receives from its association with the EU would go unchanged when Brexit is finalised.

“In terms of trade, for example, the UK says it’s guaranteeing the relationship with the UK for goods … things around the British Overseas Territory passports and rights to access travelling into Europe stays the same,” the Governor said.

Jaspert continued: “Also, the UK has said that where there is EU funding, the BVI will get some funding into certain projects and UK has said that if the EU doesn’t pick that up off Britain’s exit from the European Union, the UK will pick that up and continue any funding commitments to make sure that is there as well.”

The current target date for Britain to exit the EU is October 31.

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