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Commentary: Exit Brexit … stage right?

By Anthony L Hall

January 18, 2019

Anthony Hall

I am on record dismissing Brexit as just a sham sold by shysters, full of lies and presumptions signifying no deal.

I refer you to such commentaries as “EU: Britain Trying to Have Cake and Eat It Too,” January 29, 2013, “Brexit: Forget Leaving, Britain a Greater EU Contagion If It Remains,” June 22, 2016, and “On Brexit Plan, EU to UK, No Way! September 24, 2018.

More to the point, I warned that Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to execute Brexit was a non-starter — not only in the EU but even in the UK. Here is the foreshadowing I offered in “Brexit: Having Cake and Eating It Too,” July 24, 2018.

Her [Chequers] White Paper is just a formal version of the idea May floated earlier this year for a ‘managed divergence’ from EU rules. But it should have been instructive that, according to the March 8 edition of The Economist, the EU dismissed it back then as cherry-picking that would undermine the single market.

To be fair, though, in proposing her managed divergence, May was just doing what her predecessors did. …

I’ve been decrying Britain’s ill-fated efforts to negotiate one-foot-in/one-foot-out deals with the EU for years. Therefore, I see no point in delving too deep into Brexit’s murky waters here.

It should suffice to know that at least half of the Britons who voted for Brexit can’t even name the EU’s four ‘indivisible’ freedoms, namely the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This, despite the fact that Britain’s attempt to divvy up these freedoms (e.g., by cherry picking to allow goods but restrict people) has been the most animating feature of the Brexit debate.

More to the point, this prevailing ignorance is why so many Britons, across the political spectrum, have been calling for a second referendum (a.k.a. a mulligan) before any UK-EU divorce settlement is executed. …

Britain is fated to end up an island unto itself Cake and marooned in the global sea by the foolish, ignorant pride Brexit reflects. Even worse, as Obama famously warned (and Trump hinted), it will find itself at the back of the line of weak and relatively poor countries trying to strike trade deals with the world’s biggest trading blocs, including the American-led NAFTA, the Chinese-led ACFTA, and yes, ironically enough, the German-led EU.

Given that, this came as no surprise yesterday:

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal has been rejected by 230 votes — the largest defeat for a sitting government in history.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has now tabled a vote of no confidence in the government, which could trigger a general election.

(BBC, January 15, 2019)

May is now a dead PM walking. The only question is whether a vote to end Brexit (viz. another referendum) passes before a vote to end her career (viz. another leadership challenge or general election).

Mind you, the only honorable thing to do after such a humiliating defeat is to resign. No doubt every previous prime minister would have done just that. Exhibit A is David Cameron, her predecessor who resigned after triggering this Brexit mess with his ill-fated referendum in June 2016.

Therefore, it speaks volumes about how far Brexit-crazed Britain has lost its way that resigning seems to have not even occurred to May. Remarkably, even the members of her own Conservative party — who voted for her historic humiliation — seem perfectly happy to sit and watch her wither away … stage right.

  • Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant – headquartered in Washington DC – who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com

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Related commentaries:
EU to UK: no way

* This commentary was originally published at The iPINIONS Journal on Tuesday, January 15

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Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

May survives vote, but Britain remains in Brexit deadlock

https://youtu.be/Wx49EPIerTs

Prime minister invites party leaders to discuss alternative deal but sticks to red line

Heather StewartJessica Elgot and Peter Walker

 Theresa May survives no-confidence motion by 19 votes – video

Theresa May has survived as prime minister after weathering a dramatic no-confidence vote in her government, but was left scrambling to strike a Brexit compromise that could secure the backing of parliament.

In a statement in Downing Street on Wednesday night, the prime minister exhorted politicians from all parties to “put aside self-interest”, and promised to consult with MPs with “the widest possible range of views” in the coming days.

She had earlier announced that she would invite Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders for immediate talks on how to secure a Brexit deal, although Labour later said Corbyn would decline the invitation unless no-deal was taken off the table.

A day after overwhelmingly rejecting her Brexit deal, rebel Conservatives and Democratic Unionist party (DUP) MPs swung behind the prime minister to defeat Labour’s motion of no confidence by 325 votes to 306 – a majority of 19.

The prime minister immediately extended her invitation to opposition leaders, having pointedly declined to do so earlier in the day.

“I would like to ask the leaders of the parliamentary parties to meet with me individually, and I would like to start those meetings tonight,” she said. Corbyn responded by urging May to rule out no-deal.

In her late-night statement, the prime minister said: “I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour party has not so far chosen to take part – but our door remains open … It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done.”

The Scottish National party’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, met May on Wednesday night, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, also accepted her invitation.

Blackford later wrote to May, urging her to make a “gesture of faith” to show that she was serious. He said that the SNP would take part in cross-party talks if she was able to confirm “that the extension of article 50, a ruling out of a no-deal Brexit and the option of a second EU referendum would form the basis of those discussions”.

With just five days to go before May must make a statement to parliament setting out her Brexit plan B, Downing Street continued to indicate that she was not ready to budge on her red lines, including membership of a customs union.Advertisement

Conservative politicians are deeply divided about how May should adapt her deal to win over hostile MPs.

The South Cambridgeshire Tory MP, Heidi Allen, said: “I thought she was incredibly brave [after the Brexit defeat] and it felt like she got that we need to change. But today it was: ‘I’ll talk to people, but my red lines are still there.’ And that’s not going to work at all.

“Maybe the prime minister needs a little bit longer but she has got to reflect: stop pandering to the hard right of my party and start talking to those of us who have been working across parties for months. We’re a functioning, collaborative body already. She just needs to tap into us.”

Some cabinet ministers clearly indicated the need for flexibility, with the justice secretary, David Gauke, warning that the government should not allow itself to be “boxed in”, and Amber Rudd suggesting a customs union could not be ruled out.

Labour has not ruled out tabling further no confidence votes in the days ahead, in the hope of peeling off exasperated Tory rebels and triggering a general election. But on Wednesday night other opposition parties sent a letter to Corbyn, which said they expected him to honour his promise to back a public vote if Labour failed to get an election.

A Lib Dem source suggested they may not back future no confidence votes if they felt it was a way to evade the issue. “We will support any real opportunity to take down the Tories with relish. We will not be party to Corbyn using spurious means to avoid Labour policy, by pursuing unwinnable no confidence votes,” the source said.

The DUP was quick to stress that without their 10 MPs, the government would have lost the confidence vote, and called on May to focus on tackling their concerns with the Irish backstop.

“Lessons will need to be learned from the vote in parliament. The issue of the backstop needs to be dealt with and we will continue to work to that end,” said Nigel Dodds, the DUP leader at Westminster.

May’s spokesman said a no-deal Brexit could not be ruled out. However, the Daily Telegraph claimed to have got hold of a recording of Philip Hammond speaking to business leaders on Tuesday night in which the chancellor said the threat of a no-deal could be taken “off the table” within days.

May’s spokesman suggested a customs union was not up for discussion: “We want to be able to do our own trade deals, and that is incompatible with either the or a customs union.”

After meeting party leaders, May is expected to extend the invitation to opposition backbenchers over the coming days, as well Tory Eurosceptics.

“We want to find a way forward and we are approaching this in a constructive spirit,” May’s spokesman said. “We’ve set out the principles but clearly there is an overriding aim – to leave the European Union with a good deal – and we are open-minded.”

Civil servants and political staff are likely to attend the meetings, and ministers can direct civil servants to draw up more concrete plans where necessary, but the talks will not have the same formal status as coalition negotiations.

Wednesday’s vote followed an ill-tempered debate in which Corbyn accused May of presiding over a “zombie government”.

“It is clear that this government are not capable of winning support for their core plan on the most vital issue facing this country. The prime minister has lost control and the government have lost the ability to govern.”

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, wound up the debate for his party by saying May would for ever be known as “the nothing-has-changed prime minister”.

“No one doubts her determination, which is generally of an admirable quality, but, misapplied, it can be toxic,” he said. “And the cruellest truth of all is that she doesn’t possess the necessary political skills, empathy, ability, and most crucially, the policy, to lead this country any longer.”

The environment secretary, Michael Gove, responded with a robust speech widely regarded at Westminster as a leadership pitch, praising May’s “inspirational leadership” and attacking Corbyn on issues from antisemitism to foreign policy.

“If he cannot protect the proud traditions of the Labour party, how can he possibly protect his country?” he asked.

One former Labour MP, John Woodcock, who resigned from the party after being investigated over sexual harassment claims, abstained from the vote, saying Corbyn was “unfit to lead the country”.

Had the motion passed, MPs would have had 14 days for an alternative government to emerge that could command a majority in the Commons, or a general election would have been triggered.

Corbyn is now likely to come under pressure from party activists to move towards supporting a second referendum. A group of more than 70 Labour MPs announced on Wednesday morning that they were backing the call for a “people’s vote”.

Labour’s formal position, adopted at its conference in Liverpool last year, commits the party to press for a general election. Failing that, all options are on the table, including that of campaigning for a second referendum.

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Government and opposition agree to expeditious conclusion of matters surrounding no-confidence vote

In an atmosphere of cordiality, both parties, committed to working together on all matters relating to the protection of Guyana’s sovereingty, regardless of internal political issues

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jan. 10, CMC –  The Government of Guyana and the Parliamentary Opposition have committed to work towards concluding  matters surrounding the December 21,  vote in the National Assembly, which is currently engaging the attention of the court.

This was disclosed in a joint communique issued by both parties following the meeting on Wednesday.

According to the communique, the two sides met in an atmosphere of cordiality and committed to working together on all matters relating to the protection of Guyana’s sovereignty, regardless of the internal political issues.

Discussions focused on two broad areas as set out in an agenda put forward by President David Granger. These included the Constitutional and Legal situation, which involves the functioning of the National Assembly and Regional and General Elections.

The President indicated that the Government and the Opposition, by agreement in the National Assembly, can enlarge the time for the hosting of the elections beyond the 90 days contemplated by Article 106 (7) of the Constitution.

Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo   called for the National Assembly to only meet to deal with issues connected with the provision of essential services by the State and all matters related to the preparation of General and Regional elections.

However, Granger stated that it is lawful for the Government to engage the Court, to bring clarity to the provisions of Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution. Pending the conclusion of the legal proceedings, Parliament, he said, remains functional.

The Head of State emphasised that the Government is legal and that it must govern without any limitations on its authority. He further stated that there is no provision in the Constitution which imposes a limitation on the Government to perform its lawful functions.

The parties then identified Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally and Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira to enquire into the readiness of GECOM.

Both parties expressed their willingness to meet to ensure the management of the various issues facing the nation.

 Granger, in an address immediately following Wednesday’s meeting, said the two sides will examine the hosting of the elections within the administrative capabilities of GECOM and deemed the meeting “fruitful.”

I would say in conclusion, that we have had a successful engagement, both the leader of the Opposition and the President are concerned about the situation. We would like to assure the public of Guyana that we are working to a solution which they will be satisfied with, the public interest is our paramount concern.”

US group welcomes agreement between president, opposition in Guyana

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn, New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) that wrote to the Speaker of the Guyana Parliament, Dr. Bartland Scotland, requesting that he considers annulling the vote of no confidence that brought down the in the David Grange coalition government. has welcomed the agreement between Guyana’s President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo “to create a climate of détente in Guyana”.

This came after, as reported above, Granger and a ministerial delegation met Wednesday with Jagdeo and a delegation from the opposition People Progressive Party (PPP) to discuss current political developments in Guyana. 

In keeping with Article 106 (7) of the Guyana constitution, they also agreed to remain in consultative engagement on the continued functioning of government and the Parliament.  

Article 106 (7) of the constitution states that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.” 

CGID said on Wednesday that it “hopes that the opposition will also adhere to this provision as prescribed.

“CGID welcomes this development,” said Richford Burke, CGID president.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Elections, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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EU disburses First Economic Development Tranche of EC$17.55M to Montserrat

2018 Hurricane Maria exposed some areas of weak resilience

Jan 9, 2019 – Caribbeean News Service – The European Union has disbursed EC$17.55 million (€5.72M) to the Government of Montserrat (GoM) as the First Fixed tranche under the Multi Sector Sustainable Economic Development Budget Support Programme.

Logos - Interreg

The assistance is inclusive of an emergency top-up payment of EC$1 million (€320,000) as additional support to help with the economic recovery of Montserrat after Hurricane Maria struck in September 2017.

The overall objective of the Budget Support Programme is to assist in setting Montserrat on a path of sustainable economic development, based on its 2017-2021 Medium Term Economic Policy (MTEP).

The assistance is expected to support Montserrat’s renewable energy thrust and new port development to facilitate accessibility to the island. It is also geared towards enhancing the country’s tourism industry as well as improving the business environment and more inclusive private sector development.

The European Union Delegation will continue to support Montserrat’s efforts to create a coherent, comprehensive and sustainable policy framework that will ensure sustained and inclusive economic growth in the long term.

The EU welcomed the determination of the Government of Montserrat to increase economic resilience through strategic sector projects and mainstreaming resilience in all policies. This includes ensuring adequate building codes and standards in order to mitigate socio-economic losses in the event of natural disasters.

The EU Delegation expressed satisfaction to the Government of Montserrat as it continues to show progress and commitment towards prudent Public Financial Management (PFM), good Budgetary Transparency reforms and the pursuit of stable macroeconomic policies.

The overall programme (Grant) of the current 11 European Development Fund intervention is approximately EC$57.35 million (€18.72M).

The programme is expected to run until 2022, with EC$54.30 million (€17.72M) earmarked for multi sector development as budget support.

Montserrat also benefits from regional EU assistance for Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

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Romeo - PDM

Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement


First, let me wish a happy, God-blessed new year to the people of Montserrat young and old, near and far; to all citizens, residents, visitors and friends. May we all go forward with God together in this New Year which God has graciously allowed us to see.

As we move forward into 2019, there is great hope and good reason to be optimistic. Over the past two years we have been blessed with several breakthroughs that open up opportunities to build a sound future. Yes, the sea port, the undersea fibre optic cable, geothermal and solar energy development, the pending hospital, the EU funding, the new growth strategy, a five-year capital programme, several investment opportunities and more are now open before us, as I discussed in my recent interview with our acting Communications Director.

In the past four years the Government of Montserrat (GoM) has been able to weave the landscape that now projects the opportunity for growth, development and a thriving economy.  We stood on our own two feet before this crisis, and after 23 years of resilience training, we are ready to do it again. 

First I must give some good news on private sector investment initiatives. For example, in Dick Hill the Art Housing project has put in place the foundations and the road infrastructure to the 10 unit villa project.  The next stage will resume where we shall see the buildings going up. This was confirmed on my recent visit to the UK.  Meanwhile, we continue to advance potential projects in water bottling and the digital sector of our economy. These projects will provide services to the outside world and bring significant employment and revenue to the Government and People of Montserrat.

Let us now take note of the progress with various ongoing projects. Some of the following projects are more visible than others, but we are making good progress that will help us to build a solid future:

Carr’s Bay Bridge: With funding in place, we can all see that frameworks have been set up, concrete has been poured for the main bridge structures and work is ongoing. The bridge deck, base and vertical walls are already in place. The wing walls, the catchment, the outfall and the head walls will follow. Works on the Carr’s Bay Bridge are scheduled to be completed by January 31st.

Barzeys Road and bridge:  We have completed 820ft  of concrete roadway with an average width of 20ft.  The work also required kerbs, drains, retaining walls, building a bridge and re-aligning the roadway. The resilience, safety and access on this section of road have been greatly improved as a result of the works completed. 

Sea Port, Phase 1: A year ago, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved 14.4M pounds (about EC $50 million) for the development of Port Little Bay under the UKCIF fund.  GoM will provide an additional 7M pounds (EC 24 Million) to assist with the project expenditure. CDB & GoM have developed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the procurement of the Project Manager, Marine Consultants, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Consultant (ESIA). Land has to be acquired; asking prices suggest that we will need to take the compulsory acquisition process route.

The Public Procurement Board has issued an award letter in Dec 2018 to STANTEC Consultants out of Barbados, who will be on ­­­­­­­­island in early January 2019. A Project Coordinator for the Port project is expected to be in place by February 2019. The ESIA for the Port Project will be done by the Technical Consultants, to meet a deadline of Mar 2019. The Technical Consultants will also advance the tender process for the Design Build Contractor. This should start in June or July.  Under the European Development Fund (EDF), the Port project must be completed by 2020/21.

Airport: Construction drawings for the new Air Traffic Control Tower are nearly complete and tender documents are being developed.  The Prefabricated Cab for the Tower was expected on island by end of December 2018.  Of the EC$2.315m of GoM/Department for International Development (DFID) and EU funding for this project, EC$961,531.00 has been spent on the Cab.  EC$324,732.04 has been spent on equipment for the new Air Traffic Control Tower.  The remainder will be spent on a final payment for the pre-fabricated cab, as well as on the construction of the Shaft.  

Fibre Optics Cable: This is a priority project for GoM and DfID.  It will greatly enhance resiliency of our communications in the face of hurricanes and open the way for a powerful digital sector in our economy. Funding of about £5 millions is assured. The request for proposals is being finalized and should go to the Market this month.  It will then take another month to have a contract in place. We intend to have the fibre optic cable in place for the peak of the Hurricane season, August.

Hospital and healthcare: The hospital project is a part of the five-year capital programme being further developed with the UK, which helps to secure funding.  A steering committee is being set up for the project. Wider ongoing developments include better pediatric care, improved psychiatric care, sharing of anaesthesiology resources with neighbouring islands and creation of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs).  Options are being explored for better air ambulance services to Guadeloupe.  Healthcare in Montserrat continues to benefit from technical support through the UK departments, such as Public Health England and the Department of Health, as well as DFID and FCO in meeting its international health obligations while we address local challenges.

ZJB New Building: This is now nearing completion and the Station will soon be moving house.  Equipment for the new building was successfully tendered and a new generator should arrive shortly.  While waiting on the new equipment to arrive I have given the directive for them to occupy and broadcast from the New ZJB building with our present equipment. 

250 kW Solar PV project: This project is expected to be completed by the middle of March and will increase the resilience of our Electricity supply through solar energy.  Upon completion the roof top solar installation is expected to produce 250 kw of solar energy. This project’s capacity is approximately 10% of our peak power load, and it is intended to develop a second phase, of 750 kW, as was announced last November when CARICOM Energy Month was launched here. Installation is scheduled to begin on the 14th January 2019. The total expenditure to-date has been $870,490.

Geothermal Well 3: Regarding the drilling of the third well, DFID will provide an update on the negotiation between DFID and Iceland Drilling Company (IDC). This should inform the strategic approach on the final drilling completion and development of the third well.

Geothermal power plant: GOM has completed an early market engagement on the development of a geothermal surface plant to generate electricity. DFID and GOM after assessing the early market engagement report agreed to move to the geothermal generation stage.  The technical assistance required for the geothermal surface plant development and implementation will be financed by DFID.

Housing: We were able to provide permanent housing to five households who were able to enjoy their first Christmas living in their new homes.  Montserratians have a strong desire to own a piece of the rock and as a result we will be providing new lots in the Lookout Area.  We intend to extend the Drummonds housing development, through the construction of another complex with six two-bedroom apartments.  We are presently negotiating with DfID, our funding partner, to build a number of new homes over the next five years. 

Port Buildings Project: Work was to be done on the Montserrat Port Authourity (MPA) warehouse roof and on the Ferry terminal. Of the EC$1.1M, spend to date is $670,000. The other $430,000 is to be spent on the Office Accommodation and the final aspects of the Ferry Terminal Canopy.  The project is 85% complete and works are expected to be completed by March 2019. The MPA roof repairs and Ferry Terminal Canopy Cover are completed, including construction of a staircase, a verandah at the arrival section, paving works and reconfiguration of the fencing.  The anticipated Canopy which will form the roof for the newly paved areas will be installed shortly.  

Liquid Waste Management Project: This project has four components: [1] the Margetson Sewage Treatment Plant, [2] The Lookout warden assisted accommodation walkway, [3] the Lookout warden assisted accommodation sewage balancing tank and [4] the New Windward sewage stabilization ponds. The first three components are already completed.  Work on the New Windward ponds is still in progress. The installation of the pond liners was delayed due to late arrival.  Completion of this project is now scheduled for later this month.

Tourism: The new tourism director will now be in place shortly.  It is anticipated that he will advance the discussion of the formal twinning of Montserrat and Antigua as one tourist destination. The future looks bright for the anticipated EU funded tourism development which would increase the tourism dollars for the private sector.

Another key sign of progress comes from the testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) by Lord Ahmad, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for Overseas Territories, on December 18th 2018. This is the same FAC that I testified before and also submitted written evidence. 

In his testimony Lord Ahmad confirmed that along with the Secretary of State, (Penny Mordaunt) and his colleague Lord Bates, the view they are now taking involves much more long-term support of Capital projects in Montserrat as in each British Overseas Territory.  He confirmed that we  are working  through  the  details  of  a  £30  million-plus  programme  supporting infrastructure. However, having surveyed our needs, GoM asked for significantly more than £50 million. 

GoM acknowledges and thank Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates for the critical role they have played so far in the negotiations over the 5-year Capital programme.  For it is time we agree a real programme of action to recreate a civilized home for the People of Montserrat.

Given the legal obligations to support OT’s, Montserrat has a priority claim on DfID’s £12 billion plus development aid budget. According to the 2002 UK International Development Act, we must not be put in competition with very poor third world countries.  The key projects we are proposing are transformative and — with timely and adequate support — will help to get Montserrat out of dependency on annual grants from the UK.

It is definitely good news that, apart from having discussions with us year after year over budget support, GoM, FCO and DfID are now also discussing the first long-term capital programme with many projects.  This will not only help to set Montserrat on a course out of dependency on the British tax payers but will fulfill the UK’s obligations under the United Nations Charter, Article 73, by ensuring our advancement, economically, socially, educationally and even politically while also promoting constructive measures of development.

That is why I shall continue to call on HMG to honour the UK’s policies which are very supportive and allows them to do what is right by the people of Montserrat while doing what is in the interest of the British tax payers. 

So, 2019 is indeed the time for UK policies and actions to match. 

2019 is also the time for us as a people to be assertive about our rights as British Nationals under the UN Charter.  Those who refuse to accept this and who sometimes even laugh at it are unintentionally working against Montserrat’s interests. That must now stop and we must come together to move forward with a united force.

Finally, the key strategic move for 2019 and beyond is to turn our breakthroughs into a breakout that moves us beyond dependency and lingering impacts of the volcano disaster to resilient, self-sustaining, inclusive growth and development.  With key infrastructure and projects coming in place, 2019 is the year for us to all work together to continue to attract the right kinds of support. This includes local and foreign investments and business that will build a modern, thriving, diverse, resilient, and lasting economy. One, in which all of our people, whether citizens, residents, visitors or friends, young and old — through enterprise and initiative — can fulfil their hopes in a truly democratic and God-fearing society

Let us therefore continue to commit 2019 into God’s hands and seek his wisdom as we work together to build our future.

God bless the People and Government of Montserrat in this year of our Lord, 2019.

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Romeo - PDM

Breakthroughs and projects funding ready

by Bennette Roach

GoM ends the year ready to roll with continuing and new projects

Work goes on well into thenights on teh Carrs Bay bridge and road reconstruction

As a somewhat up and down year draws to a close, the government of Montserrat (GoM) rests easy and perhaps happier that it can speak to what the Premiere has been referring to as ‘breakthroughs’ well into the new year.

This, although it may not see movement on the ground as noted by His Excellency Governor Andrew Pearce, during his last 2018 press brief with local media on December 19. His Excellency suggested that Montserrat is like a new comer “hasn’t quite yet found its new place in the world, but is on the verge of a new sort of paradigm in a way…”

 The Governor hinted that while there is no “simple or easy solution,” there had been agreement between the U.K. and the Montserrat Government (GoM) “for a substantial aid package.”

H.E. later noted in his Christmas message repeated the information of “which he said he would “not go into all the details.” “That’s really for the Premier and ministerial colleagues,” but said also, “the total sum of money being invested, committed now to Montserrat is very substantial.”

Premier Donaldson Romeo

The Premier confirmed the information shortly after and had been hinting some successful negotiation upon his return from the UK, although lamenting it was not as much as negotiated; information that had also come out from a release on Lord Ahmad. In his Christmas message, he confined himself to the Christian message of Christmas.

“As we celebrate the birth of the Giver of Life, let us pause to remember those no longer with us. Let us also not forget to share good tidings with our neighbours and friends who may have lost a loved one, or may just be alone this Christmas. Christmas is truly a time of caring and sharing.

“May we be inspired by the One who made Himself the Greatest Gift to us all; hope to the hopeless, mercy for every mistake, restoration for every failure, and a comeback for every setback…,” he said.

The Premier then in his New Year’s message has outlined, having prefaced: “Over the past two years we have been blessed with several breakthroughs that open up opportunities to build a sound future.”

“Yes,” he said, “the sea port, the undersea fibre optic cable, geothermal and solar energy development, the pending hospital, the EU funding, the new growth strategy, a five-year capital programme, several investment opportunities and more are now open before us,” which he said he had prior, “discussed in my recent interview with our acting Communications Director,” which we believe he would have been better served in a media conference.

He gave as he said, “some good news on private sector investment initiatives. Ongoing projects in Dick Hill the Art Housing project has put in place the foundations and the road infrastructure to the 10 unit villa project.

Speaking at the FAC Inquiry: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, and Ben Merrick (rt) Director, OTs, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

He said the next stage will resume, “where we shall see the buildings going up, noting, “This was confirmed on my recent visit to the UK.  Meanwhile, we continue to advance potential projects in water bottling and the digital sector of our economy.”  

He then outlined the progress with various ongoing projects, some of which he said, “… are more visible than others. But we are making good progress that will help us to build a solid future”

Governor Pearce delivering his Christmas message following his December press conference

Carr’s Bay Bridge: With funding in place, we can all see that frameworks have been set up, concrete has been poured for the main bridge structures and work is ongoing.

Barzeys Road and bridge:  We have completed 820ft  of concrete roadway with an average width of 20ft.

Sea Port, Phase 1: A year ago, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved 14.4M pounds (about EC $50 million) for the development of Port Little Bay under the UKCIF fund. 

Airport: Construction drawings for the new AirTraffic Control Tower are nearly complete and tender documents are being developed. 

Fibre Optics Cable: This is a priority project for GoM and DfID.  It will greatly enhance resiliency of our communications in the face of hurricanes and open the way for a powerful digital sector in our economy. Funding of about £5 millions is assured.

The construction of this ZJB building was completed well before the PDM Government took office in September, 2014. With much controversy and shrouded in some rumours of corruption regarding its construction and its occupation, it is currently waiting to be fitted with equipment said to be now available

Hospital and healthcare: The hospital project is a part of the five-year capital programme being further developed with the UK, which helps to secure funding. 

ZJB New Building: This is now nearing completion and the Station will soon be moving house.

250 kW Solar PV project: This project is expected to be completed by the middle of March and will increase the resilience of our Electricity supply through solar energy. 

Geothermal Well 3: Regarding the drilling of the third well, DFID will provide an update on the negotiation between DFID and Iceland Drilling Company (IDC).

Geothermal power plant: GOM has completed an early market engagement on the development of a geothermal surface plant to generate electricity

Housing: We were able to provide permanent housing to five households who were able to enjoy their first Christmas living in their new homes. 

Port Buildings Project: Work was to be done on the Montserrat Port Authourity (MPA) warehouse roof and on the Ferry terminal.

Liquid Waste Management Project: This project has four components: [1] the Margetson Sewage Treatment Plant, [2] The Lookout warden assisted accommodation walkway, [3] the Lookout warden assisted accommodation sewage balancing tank and [4] the New Windward sewage stabilization ponds.

Tourism: The new tourism director will now be in place shortly.  It is anticipated that he will advance the discussion of the formal twinning of Montserrat and Antigua as one tourist destination.

(See full statement on page xx)

The Premier cited as a key sign of progress, coming from the testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) by Lord Ahmad, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister for Overseas Territories, on December 18, 2018.

He noted that the Minister confirmed that along with the Secretary of State, (Penny Mordaunt) and his colleague Lord Bates, the view they are now taking involves much more long-term support of Capital projects in Montserrat as in each British Overseas Territory.

“Lord Ahmad,” he said, “confirmed that we are working through the details of a £30 million-plus programme supporting infrastructure. However, having surveyed our needs, GoM asked for significantly more than £50 million.” 

Indeed, it is confirmed from the inquiry with Lord Ahmad indicating to the Committee, that, in addition to the agreed funding for the Port expansion project, the UK government has agreed and is in detailed discussions regarding £30 Plus Million in capital aid for Montserrat.  He acknowledged that Montserrat’s requirements were more like £50 Million.

In his New Year statement, the Premier acknowledges on behalf of GoM as he thanks Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates for the critical role they have played so far in the negotiations over the 5-year Capital programme. 

 

Paul Lewis, Minister of Communications and Works

He said, “it is time we agree a real programme of action to recreate a civilized home for the People of Montserrat,” pointing out once again, “Given the legal obligations to support OT’s, Montserrat has a priority claim on DfID’s £12 billion plus development aid budget.”

 

Minister of Communications and Works Paul Lewis, according to reports, in his Christmas message hinted on the same theme of a slow ‘on the ground’ movement of the projects. He said Montserrat development is not set in stone despite the government’s best aims to negotiate the best deal for Montserrat with funding partners. He then joins the Premier saying, it would take a joint effort to ensure that the truest form of development achieved for Montserrat.

 

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DSC_0467

MCC Graduates 20

In 2018 Graduation and Awards Ceremony

By Bennette Roach

The Montserrat Community College in its usual business-like style, conducted its 2018 Graduation and Awards Ceremony, its 13th on Wednesday, December 19 at the Cultural Centre in Little Bay.

Principal Geraldine Cabey hailed by a student for her sternness, “a woman whose presence is like no other, a woman with voice is enough to send chills running you’re your spine…” she had some serious caution for the graduating and other college attendees. In her remarks and report, she informed that the Graduating class has created a new beginning for themselves, whether as a step-up on the next wrung of the academic ladder or as new entrants into the workforce…providing the distinct opportunity especially for our graduants, as well as the institution, to consciously reflect on the academic journey that would have culminated in this event.


Principal Geraldine Cabey

She reported 56 full time students pursuing 26 subject areas, in pursuit of the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination qualification at the Certificate, Diploma or associate degree level. In addition, 25 part time students who pursued a combination of both advanced CAPE subjects and secondary level CSEC courses.

She reported an overall 92% subject pass rate for the June 2018 CAPE examinations, achieved by the graduating class together with the current second year students.

The most outstanding performer, the Valedictorian of the class of 2018, Miss JenAlyn Weekes, gained passes in twelve (12) CAPE Units over the two years she spent at the College. Miss Weekes, the principal said: “epitomizes the College’s Motto which is ‘Aspire, Apply, Achieve’”.

Miss JenAlyn Weekes

A notable feature of the ceremony was that every participant was connected with the College, either past or present staff or student, to include Mr. and Mrs. Alfonso Lee for their ‘outstanding’ generosity to the college, in one instance, for painting buildings on the school compound.

The master of ceremonies was Mr. Glenroy Foster who was a one of the first persons to graduate from the college before he moved on to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering, and who now serves at the Ministry of Communication and Works.

Mr. Glenroy Foster

In his opening and welcoming remarks he said: “Graduation is a time where many reminisce on the years spent at the particular institution.

“I would want to believe that the graduating class could remember times of happiness and sadness, the joyful times and the stressful times and more importantly the friends that they spent all of these times with.

“This institution is a precursor to the traditional 3-year and 4-year university experience.  It gives persons a taste of what to expect in their transition from the secondary school way of education where they are taught to the university situation where they are lectured.”

“There is no spoon feeding,” he told the students.

He shared.  “I believe it is the hope of the MCC, that the two years persons spend at the college would provide them with the necessary tools to aid them in their next step along life’s journey.” Then to the students: “Whether that step be higher learning or that step is becoming a member of the work force,” he reminded… ”this graduation ceremony marks a milestone in your lives and a point where you can look back on what you have achieved as well as look forward to what the future may bring.”

Some entertainment was provided by one student, Miss Okessa Halley giving her rendition of the song ‘One Moment in Time’, accompanied at the piano by the accomplished (staff member) Miss Anne-Marie Dewar.

Miss Okessa Halley

The keynote address, delivered by a graduate of the college of very recent years, Miss Nadia Browne. She was smooth in her admonishments, advice and encouragement.

Straight off, she began with the observation: “I noticed that most of you have left the confines of school life and joined the workforce, while others have opted to further their studies.”

“Regardless of your choice,” she continued, “my message to you this evening centers around your personality. As we hear of the turmoil in other parts of the world and look at the state of our nation, it is evident that society needs its youth to exhibit such qualities as integrity, vision, selflessness, dedication, cooperation and a host of others to function properly.

Miss Nadia Browne

Having noted that it wasn’t long since she had to miss her graduating exercise, because of an exam, she being very much a youth, including herself in her next comment: “The task is ours to set a good example for those who are even younger than us and future generations.”

“Take a moment to think about the person you want to be,” Nadia offered. “Who is that person in society? What will it take for you to become that person? Eventually, you will all be a part of the workforce. In spite of the accolades or lack thereof you gained from your scholastics, you will have to prove yourself to be a competent worker, quick learner and cooperative team-member. What do you want your co-workers to say of you?

“Would you rather be known as the worker who does not shy away from a challenge or the person who is only at work because he or she needs to be paid?

She recommends her personal choices: “I strive to maintain a reputation in my workplace for being an individual who espouses such tenets as responsibility, trustworthiness, dependability, supportiveness, cleverness, fairness, honesty and friendliness, who my coworkers are comfortable interacting with. – and when required in my office – I also try to be loving, demonstrate good listening skills, provide sound advice and exhibit confidentiality.”

There was plenty beyond this. “Who do you think Montserrat needs you to be? An innovator? A peacemaker? An activist? A negotiator? How can the talents you have been blessed with be used to make your nation better?” leaving an audience and college students, impossible not taking something away. Nadia closed: “I hope that at least something that I said tonight will resonate with you… Congratulations once again. I look forward to working alongside you to improve our nation and world.” (See her address here online at www.themontserratreporter.com) with the story.

The prizes, certificates and awards for all students were delivered with the able assistance of Mrs. Oslyn Jemmotte a past Registrar and bursar at the college.

The valedictorian, Miss JenAlyn Weekes was humble as she acknowledged her title of achievement. “I see myself as a representative of a group of valedictorian…” At the end she added: “I wish to urge members of this class, to be grateful for the foundation that his been set and to go out there anad soar like an eagle and accomplish great things,” thanking all those including staff etc, parents and all those who contributed to the journey so far.

The vote of thanks delivered by student Doron Cassel should have ended the day’s events but for the surprise event of an award/gift to the principal Mrs. Cabey. This came with the words as she was acclaimed: “… a stern woman whose presence is like no other; whose voice is enough to send chills running down your spine; a woman when she walks, the sound of her heels echo throughout the school…” So it was a privilege, pleasure and honour, the young man said: “to give this award to none other than Miss Geraldine Cabey, whose looks will make you remember every piece of homework, you think you can trick your teacher…”

The recession of the now graduates, no longer graduants, followed.

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Howard Fergus

Development stifled and Public Service

Bureaucracy and Consultancies -Heavyweight Governor!? Facebook

There was this retired public servant gentleman with whom I was having a discourse about some specifics about the state of Montserrat. He/we concluded that missing is an education which will come through information and discussions among people. So, he suggested the use of Facebook.

I promptly noted that Facebook, in its setting is good for rallying groups together, but in a general way does not reach as many people, certainly not all the people, often those for the masses to whom certain material and important matters are targeted. I reminded that Facebook is a great tool for what it is good for. I offered my usual description – It is about entertainment, gossip and mischief…varying information which should be always verified.

But as suggested it is a good meeting place to exchange thoughts and information among those willing to participate.

It has been suggested often, that TMR in fact had the first Facebook back in the 90s.

It is here, that some posts and comments caught my attention that I felt compelled to share, especially with our readers who otherwise would not know about. The matter though only recently highlighted was first aired at Governor’s coffee morning with the media on September 26.

There he said on the matter of the public service very much the same as was later captured in that ZJB report where he was quoted as, “once again voicing his concern about the high level of bureaucracy in the public service…challenging them to be more result oriented…”

The Governor took aim at the number of consultancies done on the island and some of the needless processes in the public sector …that the bureaucratic red tape inherited from the U.K. is stifling development.

He said: “…there are consultancy reports analyzing previous consultancies going back decades; and there’s a consultancy on every conceivable thing you can think of; furniture, everything, air conditioning, the works. And then you add on top of that that if you want to go on leave, the process is quite stupendous.  The ‘Brits’, we’ve made a mess of a lot of things around the world. For a tiny island we have made an incredible mess. It has to be said says is something very unique and special to Britain… we but the amount of bureaucracy we reproduce is stupendous, and here we sort of incubated it; and if you want to go on leave you fill in a form and then it has to go round about 10 people. By the time it eventually comes back to you to confirm you can go on leave you’re near retirement…”

The Governor addressing that CARICOM meeting a few weeks ago, continues: “The level of bureaucracy, the level of complexity that’s expected on the village on a rock like Montserrat…it is the size of a British village on a relatively remote rock in the Caribbean. And we expect it to run its own port, run its own airport, run its customs, collect its taxes, organise its pensions, organise its civil service, to best practice, run a police force, run a Marine vessel, be ready to do search and rescue; do all sorts of financial services activities; and most recently, participate in arranging sanctions against Iran and Burma and maintain lists of things like dual use products that could be diverted into chemical weapons misuse. we’re expecting all of that of ourselves, of a village. And it ain’t ever going to happen, not in a month of Sundays will that happen, the model is wrong, we shouldn’t ever pretend otherwise. You can talk about it all, you can write about it…we can write all these reports and have all these committee meetings and at the end, nothing happens.”

At Facebook some important things get commented on. The foregoing was referred to and expressed as follows:

By Howard Fergus 

His Excellency is a heavy weight
in this Her Majesty’s dominion,
DfID’s footstool, and playground
of British civil servants over the years.
The Governor weighed against the service
recently, with damning clarity.

Bureaucracy was slow and paralytic,
communication was circuitous
with letters taking ages to be processed:
a request for leave was answered
when the candidate was ready to retire.
That is what the Governor said,
and the Governor is an honourable English man
who spoke with royal authority;
and there were studies on top of studies
and studies of studies (consuming our aid).

What the Governor did not say
were his plans to cure the sore
since the service is in his purview and portfolio.
I hope he gets around to this
before he is ready to retire,
that he is not afflicted with like paralysis.

(Lord help us. Everybody just come an wash dem mout pan awe.)

The (our) celebrated poet, satirical at times, as can be, and would be expected, got support and reactions. One of our very active and knowledgeable, insensibly exiled journalist, with BBC and regional fame, was first to react.

Mike Jarvis

Agreed.
My thoughts as posted elsewhere.

“The Governor of Montserrat is right. The present model is wrong.

So, now that he has found it necessary to highlight it at a level beyond the local, the question for Governor Pearce is this:
“Guv, what are YOU going to do about it?”

On the outmoded and unnecessary time-consuming administrative requirements imposed on a micro local government in a micro territory, how much of this now needs a massive rethink?

How much needs to be referred to the administrative authority – as is done in the UK Nations and Regions, councils and local governments – so that the local administration and civil service can focus on the priority local issues?

Is it not time for a realistic new partnership with the UK central government, especially in Montserrat’s case?

With elections pending, this is something for current and aspiring Montserrat politicians to add to their ‘promise list’…or is it too big an issue?”

More reactions

Following also some brief, remarks, all considered worthy of mention, but selected:

With elections pending, this is something for current and aspiring Montserrat politicians to add to their ‘promise list’…or is it too big an issue?”

Estelle Howe

Estelle Howe

I lol bcuz I’m jus loving that last bit ” everybody jus come wash dem mouth pan awe”

Vernon Jeffers (former Minister of Government)

Quite an interesting “Tale”.
And they all in unison, exclaimed, “Lord help us”.

Joseph Jackman (just visited Montserrat)

Very well put. Sir Howard… my very short visit to the rock last week. Have a blessed, inspired and productive day.

Dunstan Lindesay

Sir Howard Fergus. The Conscience concurs with your sentiments. But we can’t wait to DIE before (they) fix it. We must find a way. OURSELVES.

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May lvs Downing St

Theresa May Delays Brexit Vote as Negotiations Get Really, Really Messy

The Slatest

By Joshua Keating Dec 10, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves No. 10 Downing Street on Dec. 5.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

“Quite frankly a bit of a shambles” was the understated response from one of Theresa May’s coalition partners to the news Monday that the prime minister seeks to delay a vote on her Brexit deal, which had been planned for tomorrow.

The delay reflects May’s acknowledgement that she doesn’t have the votes for the controversial deal she negotiated with Brussels, which would keep Britain in a customs union, at least for a time, with the EU, in order to avoid the imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The deal is opposed not only by the opposition Labour and Scottish National parties but also by her coalition partners, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party and many hard-line Brexiteer members of her own Conservative Party. Both Labour and the Scottish National Party have suggested that a motion of no confidence in May’s government could be put forward this week.

According to the Guardian, “the vote could take place next week or even be delayed until early January, although this would allow less time for the ensuing Brexit legislation to be passed through parliament before 29 March,” when Britain is due to leave the EU, deal or no. Time is running short, and the delay raises the likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit in which Britain would revert to trading with Europe under WTO rules, a prospect that experts have warned would have dire consequences for the British economy. The pound fell 0.5 percent against the dollar Monday in response to the news.

The delay will give May some more time to lobby reluctant lawmakers, and she has also suggested that the so-called “Northern Ireland backstop” could be modified.

An EU spokesperson insisted, however, that the deal on the table is “the best and only deal possible” and would not be renegotiated. Given the knottiness of the Irish border problem, it’s not quite clear what an alternative arrangement would even be.

But the important thing to remember in the Calvinball world of Brexit is that no one actually knows what the rules are because no one has ever done this before. The EU has already compromised more than many expected in agreeing to the customs union arrangement. After insisting for months that “Brexit means Brexit,” May also agreed to a much closer future economic relationship between Britain and the EU than was anticipated. Both sides also seem to be making quiet preparations for postponing Brexit past March, after long insisting that the deadline was nonnegotiable.

At the moment, a host of scenarios—including a no-deal Brexit, some alternative compromise on the Irish question, a delayed Brexit, a new “people’s vote” referendum on the deal, and an ouster of May leading to who knows what—all seem entirely plausible.

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Romeo 5

Highlighting FAC Inquiry Evidence

Following the JMC meetings OTs’ ministers give oral evidence oftheir submissionss with discussions

Premier Donaldson Romeo of Montserrat was the last in line during the Foreign Affairs Committee- Oral evidence: Future of the UK Overseas Territories, HC 1464 delivered on Wednesday, 5 December, 2018, Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on the said date.

The Members of the UK Government present: Tom Tugendhat(Chair); Ian Austin; Mike Gapes; Ian Murray; Priti Patel; Andrew Rosindell; and Royston Smith.

The witnesses for the occasion were four, from the Overseas Territories. They were: Hon. Victor F.Banks, Chief Minister of Anguilla, Hon. Miss Teslyn Barkman, Member of the Falkland Islands Assembly, Hon. Sharlene Robinson, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat, as they were seated opposite the chair from left to right. (see photo taken from the video which may be seen on line at http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/foreign-affairs-committee/the-future-of-the-uk-overseas-territories/oral/93391.html)

Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands

There was a second round of oral evidence was taken immediately from the other OTs present for that purpose. They were: Councilor Leslie Jaques OBE, Government of Pitcairn Islands, Councilor Derek Thomas,Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Ian Lavarello, Chief Islander of Tristan da Cunha, and Councilor Keturah George, Ascension Island Council.

After he had set the tone for the sitting, Chair Tugendhat began, “…we are going to ask for two-minute statements,” requesting that the witnesses “stick to time,” “We will then get on to questions, so a lot of things may come out in questioning afterwards.” And so it did, he having asked for brevity as he said they, “…have submitted all this in written evidence, for which we are hugely grateful.”

Chief Minister Banks got off to a solid start even having to ask for and obtain time for two more points which he  punched in. He had begun saying he would, “be rather general with my comments and speak to the issue of the relationship – what it means to be British as an Overseas Territory —what it means to be British as an Overseas Territory…we have been in a relationship with the United Kingdom since 1650, and we need to know where we go from here:”

He elaborated very briefly, hitting on some common issues which throughout became speaking points: “ 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…I think it is important when we make a criticism always to make some suggestions about how best to advance our concerns. I would like us to consider a more appropriate Department to interface with Anguilla, such as the Cabinet Office, as we are neither a foreign state nor a member of the Commonwealth…I would like a Minister to be appointed with the British Overseas Territories as their sole brief.

Reclassify the Overseas Territories, separating them and introducing a new rank of countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the more viable and advanced British Overseas Territories…Introduce a citizens’ charter between HM Gand the citizens of the British Overseas Territories to enhance transparency and introduce accountability for the execution of the duty of care they are owed by Her Majesty’s Government, whose actions affect their lives and livelihoods. Revise the role of Governor and nominate candidates from a wider base of skills…”

His last two points: “Ensure that there is improved institutional memory and training about the Overseas Territories within HMG and Parliament, and increase awareness among the UK public as a whole, possibly through education. Finally, 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.”

No surprise that the next ‘witness’ Miss Barkman from the Falkland Islands spoke with a different context eventually highlighting some common issues shared with the other OTs, but showing that they were more advanced in their relationship with the UK.

“It is important that the constitutional relationship between the UK Government and its Overseas Territories is routinely reviewed. It is vital that the relationship reflects the present realities in both the UK and its Overseas Territories. In the light of that, and in the light of Brexit in particular and other recent events, we welcome this inquiry,” she began.

She noted a status that was different to say, Montserrat and Anguilla: “As the Falkland Islands have developed to become internally self-governing and economically self-sufficient, our relationship with the UK has transformedfrom one of dependence to one that supports mutual benefit and low contingentliability risk to the UK taxpayer…”

FIG has a track record of fiscal responsibility and transparency…proactive in respect to resource management, human rights and good governance…” At times, however,” she said, they have not felt that this is reflected. Rather than being seen as partners, proactively a part or engaged—we are in some ways more managed by officials in the FCO.”

Along lines of many other OTs, Miss Barkman cited, “Our constitution should not be set in stone—it is a living  document…review this document to ensure it is fit for purpose.”

She developed to a close as she shared that in March 2013, 99.8% of Falkland islanders, on a turnout of92%—I am reiterating the point, voted to remain a self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. That remains the settled and very powerful voice of Falkland Islanders.

She closed on a common point for some others also, as she also referenced Brexit. “Obviously, we have a powerful potential area of risk with regard to trade, but we have seen that engagement from UK Ministers and senior officials, with officials and regional and local politicians abroad, has been very strong—engaging on a first-person basis. We would like to see that kind of closer direct contact encouraged and reiterated.”

Next, Hon. Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, who introduced that she was accompanied by the Turks and Caicos Islands deputy Premier. She was more brief than the others but later delved more heavily into the discussions.

She immediately addressed the TCI issue of what she termed the regression of their Constitution of several years now: “We have had a rather tumultuous relationship in the last decade or so with the United Kingdom Government. Not too long ago, we had the unfortunate experience of having our country’s constitution suspended and replaced by a regressive constitution so near our40-year anniversary of ministerial government, our concern over that time has always been that there is no genuineness on the part of HMG for progression, for a progressive constitution or for allowing elected Governments to do more.”

She added that they had recently, we submitted some constitutional proposals, “We expect to engage with the UK on that;” noting their appreciation for, “the challenges that gave rise in the UK’s mind to the suspension of our constitution, the constitution always allowed for built-in oversight by the Governor who, equally, must be held accountable for any blame or breaches.”

She noted “the rising cost of the SIPT trial is difficult for us to bear—we are approaching $100 million, which is for the SIPT trial alone, not the civil recovery programme.”

Like so many of the other OTs, she made the recurring point: “We would like to see the involvement of UK Overseas Territories in the selection of Governors, in particular looking at their backgrounds. Some of the backgrounds have literally been at odds with the diplomatic rule of government, of Governors towards local governments. We would also like to see on the review a Governor who is always in-territory during his term, while he is performing his remit under the constitution. That is important, because we do not have responsibility for external and internal security, so the police operate pretty much in silos. As elected members of Government, people look to us, but we have no recourse as such in the strategic direction—not necessarily the operational direction—of the police force.”

She addressed what, again like others BVI e.g. “We are concerned about the constitutional over-reach that transpired in the House not long ago—the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill.”

“We are a democratically elected Parliament, and we expect to be treated with much more respect in terms of looking at things that can impact negatively on our economy and way of life.”

“Finally,” she said, joining the chorus, “… we are of course concerned, as are all other Overseas Territories, with the post-Brexit loss of funding that we will experience following removal or withdrawal from the EU,” continuing to point out the benefits, pointing out needs, “as small islands, we are also prone to the worst impact of climate change, so we would expect as well that there will be some level of funding for us in the Caribbean—Overseas Territories in particular, which have just recently suffered in the storm—to rebuild, and to rebuild resiliently, looking at climate change action throughout all the Overseas Territories and at disaster risk reduction.”

Premier Romeo was last to present in the group, and of course as expected from the Montserrat scenario, though in other ways similar to others, his main concern, lamented the lack of British forward moving interest to bring Montserrat back to where it was preceding the volcanic crisis which began 23 years ago. “… Our main concern is with the way in which aid has been delivered to Montserrat over the past 23years.”

He cited: “The UK Government have said that, acting in accordance with article 73 of the UN charter, the UK has an international and legally binding responsibility to meet the urgent basic and development needs of the British Overseas Territories. To meet those legal responsibilities, the British Government’s own policies state that Montserrat is eligible for overseas development aid as a British Overseas Territory, has first call on Majesty’s $12 billion aid budget.”

“I have therefore been puzzled by the dealings of the British Government with Montserratians throughout this volcanic crisis and beyond.”

He then asked several rhetorical questions: “Why, at the beginning of the crisis, did the British Government consistently withhold from Montserratians adequate aid for basic necessities such as food and decent shelter?”

He recalled,“Some 20 years ago Her Majesty’s coroner, in his comments on the deaths of 18persons caused by the volcano, described Her Majesty’s Government’s delivery of aid to Montserrat as “unimaginative, grudging and tardy”.” “Why is that still painfully relevant?” he asked. “And if you finally accept to invest in us rather than penny-pinching us into everlasting dependency, shall we not rise to the challenge?”

(See his (Premier Romeo) full presentation in this issue)

Like the other witnesses and the UK members present the Premier joined, supporting in the deliveries on the many points which for the most part dealt with the different ways, the discussion, “the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British…”

Q185 Andrew Rosindell: 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?

Following are excerptfrom thee interesting discussions and exchanges which followed –

Q167 Priti Patel: … Could you please, in the few minutes you have, extol the virtues, if there are some, of being a British Overseas Territory, whether or not you consider your territory to be part of the United Kingdom? As we will unpack during this evidence session, where do you think the areas off blockage exist on the very points you have already made in your representations? Premier, why don’t we start with you?

Donaldson Romeo: I would say the policies declaredb y British Government and already in place are perfect; in Fact, some refer to Montserrat particularly. However, Majesty’s Government are not implementing the policies as they state them. Having first call on British aid is atremendous advantage, but it does not really happen in real life.

Donaldson Romeo: (Later) I support Andrew Rosindell’s keen desire to see Montserrat and other Overseas Territories better represented. I think there needs to be some action in that direction, such as a special committee that focuses on us, allows us to present questions to Parliament and the like.I really think something needs to happen. However, please realise thatpoliticians on your end make decisions for your constituents and your voters,and we are forced to live with them, although it affects us politically.

Q187 Andrew Rosindell: I have not mentioned that today. I am talking about which Department you belong under. You mentioned Liverpudlian, Scottish and English earlier. The Falkland Islands and all the Overseas Territories may be British, but in so many ways they are not treated the same as the rest of the British family.

Barkman: It is not what you can do for us; it is what we can do for ourselves a bit more.

Q188 Chair:I was very interested to hear you say you were happy under the Foreign Office.

Barkman: It is the best—

Chair: It is the best fit.

Barkman: It is the most suitable Department, but the door is a bit wider open.

Donaldson Romeo: The negative impact of the name is not the name itself; it is how you are treated. (Here he refers to a call – That is all the more reason for the British Government to be kind in implementing the policies that favour giving adequate and timely aid to Montserrat in particular…

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