#Providenciales, February 28, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – In the introductory section of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the report stated that “the UK has an obligation under article 73 of the United Charters to provide for the well-being of the inhabitants.” This statement alone is hypocritical in that the recommendations proposed by the FAC is not in the well-being of the Overseas Territories (OT).
The report also stated that the “UK Parliament has, as matter of constitutional Law, unlimited powers to legislate for the OT. In practice, it tends only to legislate in areas that are reserved to the UK, such as foreign policy and national security, and not in areas devolved to the OT without their consent. If this is their practice, then the FAC should not threaten the OT with recommendations without their consent. It is the time the Overseas Territories stop taking and start acting and one way to do so is to collaborate and strategize in dealing with the UK on all issues going forward.
Same Sex Marriage
The Committee asked the five leaders of Cayman, Monserrat, Anguilla, BVI and Turks if they would consider legalizing the same sex marriage. All islands except the Cayman Islands responded. In my opinion, the only leader that responded strongly was the leader of BVI who said that their constitution states that marriage is between man and a woman. The other leaders said more or less it would require consultation. We have been over this question for years now and we know the answer by the people is no to same sex marriage so every leader should have responded on the same way as BVI leader. I do not know what the other islands constitution state but I know TCI constitution also states that marriage is between a man and woman. The OTs need to be radical with the UK and remind them of their obligation to provide for the well-being of the inhabitants. The inhabitants say no to same sex marriage and they should honour the desires of the inhabitants.
British Overseas Territories Act 2002
As a result of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, the citizens of the Overseas Territories became full British citizens whereby they can live, work and vote in the UK just like any other British citizens. However, this was not reciprocated to the UK citizens. Quite naturally, the UK citizens would think it is unfair for overseas citizens to reside in UK without restrictions and they cannot do the same thing in the Overseas Territories. Obviously due to the size of our population and the fact that most of the OT citizens are outnumbered, we cannot and should not accept reciprocity as this is not in the well-being for the OT.
Should the UK Government accept this recommendation from the FAC, then the OT need to decide whether or not they want their citizens to have full British status. While many of us including myself have embraced this opportunity for our children, it will not be worth having this status with UK citizens allowing to reside in the OT without restrictions.
So far, the Cayman Islands is the only OT who said they would seek independence should the UK proceed with the recommendation by the FAC.
The OT must develop a plan in the event the proposed changes are handed down to us. Do not take anything for granted as we do not want to be caught with our pants down. We need a UK exit strategy plan even if we do not plan to exit now. If the citizens of the OT want to remain with the UK, then the OT need to present to the UK, long term strategies that are in the best interest of the OT citizens. Hopefully, it will cover issues such as crime reduction strategies and the protection of the borders of all of the OT particularly TCI which is under constant threat.
By Drexwell Seymour