October 21, 2020

UK relationship needs to change

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Alden McLaughlin

Variously claiming that ”this country is dying” and “McKeeva has fooled us again”, speakers at Wednesday’s North Side community meeting sought to alert residents to the position of the Cayman Islands with regard to Britain.

Called by North Side independent MLA Ezzard Miller, the meeting featured Leader of the Opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) Alden McLaughlin, and Chamber of Commerce CEO and Constitutional Commission member Wil Pineau.

In the audience of more than 100 were Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden, East End MLA Arden McLean, former North Side PPM MLA and Speaker of the House Edna Moyle, former United Democratic Party Minister of Health and radio talk-show host Gilbert McLean and former independent political candidate Derrington “Bo” Miller.

The meeting, called to discuss a range of issues, focused chiefly on pending London talks with Premier McKeeva Bush and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) seeking to redefine the relationship between the UK and its 14
Overseas Territories.

Sadly, Mr Miller said, the public had only until tomorrow, 4 November, to offer opinions to the FCO before the consultation closes. Mr Bush will travel to London for annual talks later this month.

“I have been going district-to-district putting together a written submission for the FCO”, Mr Miller said, “seeing what people thought were the shortcomings in the relationship, formally dubbed ‘Partnership for Progress and Prosperity”’.

Arden McLean

“By contrast, however,” he said, “the premier had not consulted elected officials about opinion in their districts or called for a
parliamentary debate.

“I am disappointed with the secrecy that has surrounded this effort, and that fault lies with only one person: the premier. He has known since November 10. Why has he not conducted this publicly?”

Conceding Mr Bush’s parliamentary majority, Mr Miller nonetheless said he “should give us the opportunity to stand up and articulate what you want. That denial is a serious trespass on your democracy.”

Mr McLaughlin lamented the brevity of the consultation, saying, “the issue is so rushed that no one can take the time to understand what is going on and what ought to happen as far as governance is concerned.”

Britain’s forecast White Paper on relations with its Overseas Territories will include questions of human rights; economic development – “how the UK views our financial-services industry and how we want to protect it,” said Mr Pineau – and the challenges of “everyday life”, according to an FCO questionnaire.

Also included will be sections on politics and government; cooperation with the UK; financial management and economic planning; external support; cooperation between territories; and the global profile of the Cayman Islands.

Ezzard Miller

While Ms Moyle called for Messrs Miller and McLaughlin to  “hop a flight” to London to tell the FCO that Cayman has had no time to answer, Mr Miller challenged the audience with a practical – if gloomy – assessment.

“Cayman is no more than a blip on UK radars, and we have to wake up and realise that we must paddle our own canoe or shut up,” he said.

“The UK is concerned about how we manage our own affairs, and we have conducted ourselves so poorly in recent times. We are more than $1 billion in debt and about 2,100 people elect our premier. This is the most perilous position I have ever seen this country in.

“This country is dying and depressed and we cannot wait for the elected government,” Mr Miller said. “We should come up, like, last week, with a 10-point economic plan and put together something to help small businesses where people have nowhere to turn.”

Closing the two-hour session, East End’s Mr McLean lamented that “somehow McKeeva has fooled us again. This circular,” he said, pointing to the official FCO opinion form,” should have gone to every resident of the 14 Overseas Territories, and now Henry Bellingham”, leading the consultation as Britain’s Under Secretary of State, “says he spoke to McKeeva in March, and will review the territorial relationship with him in November.”

 

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