April 14, 2021

The Editor speaks: UK’s new report “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories” will cause much concern here

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Colin Wilson

We have published today the “Introduction” and Conclusions” contained in a new UK Parliamentary Committee report titled “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship”. You can find the whole report at : https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmfaff/1464/146402.htm

Of course one of the issues that is going to cause the most concern is same-sex marriages and the other is beneficial ownership registers.

However, a shocking new one has arisen from the Report that states the denial of the right to vote or run for office to legal residents in the UK territories is wrong.

That conclusion from the UK’s Parliamentarians is ridiculous when it comes to small countries like the Cayman Islands.

You could easily have a situation where this country is now run by non- born paper Caymanians. People from another country who know absolutely nothing about the traditions and values these islands have enjoyed for centuries. Who no doubt will want to enforce their own inherited dubious values.

If British government takes action to force the Cayman Islands Government to allow permanent residents to vote and stand for election that will be the writing on the wall for immediate independence cries.

The Report acknowledges that its British Overseas Territories (BOTs) and Britain are in a “difficult period” and long-standing assumptions that “the UK can take a hands-off approach and bear little cost or liability is under strain”.

That strain will reach breaking point since the Report concludes “While we recognise that the OTs are small communities with unique cultural identities, we do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office. This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family.”

Amazingly, this risk of “undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family” has never surfaced before. Well, certainly not here.

The question of belongship was not responded to by Cayman. I fully understand why.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is expected to consult with the BOTs and produce a timetable and a plan to resolve these issues. At least The FCO has said it has recognized “the desire of small territories to maintain their cohesion and the need for a qualifying process.”

I strongly suggest that “qualifying process” should be 100 years!

The question of beneficial ownership registers is not going away despite the assurances our Premier has been given. The expression “An Englishman’s word is his bond “ went down into the sewers a long time ago, I’m afraid. And British government all go down in history as masters of diplomacy”.

Another idea in this Report is to form another committee to deal directly with territory issues, given the cross-section of departments the territories now deal with.

I fully agree with that. It will mean nothing will get done for a very long time.

I can now breath a sigh of relief. Form it quickly.

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