UK pledges a consultative process on Brexit between London and BOTs

By added on 21/07/2016

Leaders from the British Overseas Territories meeting in the Turks and Caicos Islands, TCI, this week heard that the UK will not forget them once it begins its negotiations to exit the European Union, reports the Merco Press.

Before the meeting got underway Richard Wood, the Head of the European Union Department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, called Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo, who led the Brexit discussion at this year’s pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting, to offer some reassurance about the uncertainties ahead.

Wood reportedly confirmed that the UK would ensure a consultative process would be put in place between the United Kingdom and the BOTs. The territories’ leaders have agreed that this is an important area that needs urgent attention and will be on the agenda at the full JMC later this year.

The concerns of individual BOTs vary but they are all agreed that much is still unknown as to what a final deal between the UK and the EU will look like and how it will impact its remaining colonies.

According to a release from the premier’s office about the first day of the meeting, concerns included security, free movement of people, potential impacts to business and trade, as well as any possible negative impact on the world economy.

The annual JMC precursor this year is chaired by the TCI Premier Rufus Ewing. The opening address was delivered by Orlando Smith, the premier of the British Virgin Islands and chair of the Political Council of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA).

Before discussing Brexit, updates were provided on the work of UKOTA and the Overseas Countries and Territories Association. There was also a meeting with Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin Larocque.

Bermuda Premier Michael Dunkley led discussions on sustainable economic development, and Roger Edwards, a member of Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, led talks on the safeguarding of children. Cayman Islands Primer Alden McLaughlin, supported by Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton, led the on ‘Financial Services, Tax and Transparency – Addressing the Offshore Stigma and Counteracting It’.

The meeting continues Thursday and is an opportunity for all BOT heads of government to exchange views on political and constitutional issues, especially as they relate to the United Kingdom and its relationship with the overseas territories.

The 2016 Joint Ministerial Council hosted by the FCO is set to take place in London from 31 October until 4 November.