Begin a ‘global Britain’ and mutual respect for the OTs

It was surprising when we discovered that there was more than the usual number of people who engaged in discussing and opining over matters relating to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry into the future of the UK Government relationship with the Overseas Territories (OTs).

We discovered that as we have been saying or as the saying goes, put in many ways, ‘you cannot live successfully today and plan your future, without knowing and understanding your past.” There were those who took the position that as Overseas Territories of Britain Montserrat (in particular) is in no position to do anything but accept whatever the UK Govt throws its way. The retort to that was, isn’t there an obligation to do ‘otherwise’ and doesn’t the OTs have the right to claim?

Immediately after that discourse, there was another view referring to the Donaldson Romeo Government position taken in his oral evidence to the FAC inquiry in the Committee hearing on Wednesday. (See Statement published in this issue –transcript of what the Premier said). The position taken there was agreement with the Premier, who said that his main concern was, “the way in which aid has been delivered to Montserrat over the past 23 years.”

Each of the witnesses (there were two sessions) with different groups, with our premier sharing seats with Falkland Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos Islands in the first session on December 5, 2018.

Each witness had two minutes to present as Tom Tugendhat (Chair) had put it, “we are going to ask for two-minute statements from each of you to set out your position,” pointing out that their written evidence is already in hand, and,  “We will then get on to questions, so a lot of things may come out in questioning (and discussions) afterwards, which they did.

See front story for a summary of the evidence. It became obvious that the main thrust of the OT governments’ was, concern that there needs to be as Andrew Rosindell concludes: “How can it be effective for you as British citizens in British territories to be lumped into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when you are not foreign and you are also not members in your own right of the Commonwealth? You are appearing in front of a Foreign Affairs Select Committee in a Parliament in which you have no say and no influence on anything, where laws can be imposed upon you without any democratic accountability. Do you not agree with me that the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British?

There was the observation that the groupings were deliberate, and we agree, as the other session which included Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island, all with different systems of government. But, the arguments and concerns were all similar, to include not a challenge like we’ve critical of the governors powers, but concerns about their selection and how they function.

Again Andrew Rosindell encouraged and supported the discussion, adding or rather highlighting that most territories have in some cases by referendum determined to remain in whatever status links them to Britain. That is stated here that way, in view of the following argument summarised again by Rosindell.

“All of you have, as expected, shown your absolute determination to be British, to stay British, and to be part of what we now call the British family, but there is no such thing, constitutionally, as the British family. Do you consider yourselves to be part of the United Kingdom?”

Generally, as it came out in the attitude of some of the members, it is agreed that the problem with the UK, that though called British citizens, OTs citizens are treated as strangers and foreigners. The time is here and the discussion must be focused and taken forward.

Many of the submissions have proposed ways how the relationship can be improved whether it be representation by the OTs in the UK Parliament being able to vote for parliamentarians, representatives in the UK, but as Anguilla Chief Minister Banks puts it: “We are not foreign;neither are we members of the Commonwealth, so we should have a different interface with the UK that is based on mutual respect.”

“Mutual respect,” is a phrase that resonated throughout all the submissions. Banks saw this coming through,“increased awareness among the UK public as a whole, possibly through education.” And, the UK to bindingly commit to the development of the British Overseas Territories to ensure equal life chances and standards of living for every British citizen residing in any British nation in accordance with ‘global Britain.’

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It was surprising when we discovered that there was more than the usual number of people who engaged in discussing and opining over matters relating to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry into the future of the UK Government relationship with the Overseas Territories (OTs).

We discovered that as we have been saying or as the saying goes, put in many ways, ‘you cannot live successfully today and plan your future, without knowing and understanding your past.” There were those who took the position that as Overseas Territories of Britain Montserrat (in particular) is in no position to do anything but accept whatever the UK Govt throws its way. The retort to that was, isn’t there an obligation to do ‘otherwise’ and doesn’t the OTs have the right to claim?

Immediately after that discourse, there was another view referring to the Donaldson Romeo Government position taken in his oral evidence to the FAC inquiry in the Committee hearing on Wednesday. (See Statement published in this issue –transcript of what the Premier said). The position taken there was agreement with the Premier, who said that his main concern was, “the way in which aid has been delivered to Montserrat over the past 23 years.”

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Each of the witnesses (there were two sessions) with different groups, with our premier sharing seats with Falkland Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos Islands in the first session on December 5, 2018.

Each witness had two minutes to present as Tom Tugendhat (Chair) had put it, “we are going to ask for two-minute statements from each of you to set out your position,” pointing out that their written evidence is already in hand, and,  “We will then get on to questions, so a lot of things may come out in questioning (and discussions) afterwards, which they did.

See front story for a summary of the evidence. It became obvious that the main thrust of the OT governments’ was, concern that there needs to be as Andrew Rosindell concludes: “How can it be effective for you as British citizens in British territories to be lumped into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when you are not foreign and you are also not members in your own right of the Commonwealth? You are appearing in front of a Foreign Affairs Select Committee in a Parliament in which you have no say and no influence on anything, where laws can be imposed upon you without any democratic accountability. Do you not agree with me that the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British?

There was the observation that the groupings were deliberate, and we agree, as the other session which included Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island, all with different systems of government. But, the arguments and concerns were all similar, to include not a challenge like we’ve critical of the governors powers, but concerns about their selection and how they function.

Again Andrew Rosindell encouraged and supported the discussion, adding or rather highlighting that most territories have in some cases by referendum determined to remain in whatever status links them to Britain. That is stated here that way, in view of the following argument summarised again by Rosindell.

“All of you have, as expected, shown your absolute determination to be British, to stay British, and to be part of what we now call the British family, but there is no such thing, constitutionally, as the British family. Do you consider yourselves to be part of the United Kingdom?”

Generally, as it came out in the attitude of some of the members, it is agreed that the problem with the UK, that though called British citizens, OTs citizens are treated as strangers and foreigners. The time is here and the discussion must be focused and taken forward.

Many of the submissions have proposed ways how the relationship can be improved whether it be representation by the OTs in the UK Parliament being able to vote for parliamentarians, representatives in the UK, but as Anguilla Chief Minister Banks puts it: “We are not foreign;neither are we members of the Commonwealth, so we should have a different interface with the UK that is based on mutual respect.”

“Mutual respect,” is a phrase that resonated throughout all the submissions. Banks saw this coming through,“increased awareness among the UK public as a whole, possibly through education.” And, the UK to bindingly commit to the development of the British Overseas Territories to ensure equal life chances and standards of living for every British citizen residing in any British nation in accordance with ‘global Britain.’