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Brexit team announced – Premier says BVI is proactive

Brodrick Penn. File photo

Brodrick Penn. File photo

While claiming that his government has been proactive in relation to Brexit, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Brodrick Penn will head a task force, which will examine in detail the risks and opportunities being posed by Brexit.

The team will also prepare a White Paper on the impact of Brexit, which is the process by which Britain and its overseas territories – including the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – will leave the European Union (EU) over the next two years.

The other members of the local Brexit task force are:

  • Deputy Secretary in the Premier’s Office, Elvia Smith-Maduro
  • Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Joseph Smith-Abbott
  • Acting Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Andrew St Hilaire
  • Senior Policy Analyst in the Premier’s Office, Lizette George
  • Director of BVI London Office and EU Representative, Benito Wheatley
  • Deputy Director of the BVI London Office, Dr Sandra Besson
  • Officer in the EU SME Project Management Unit, Diane Parsons
  • Director of the Financial Services Implementation Unit, Kedrick Malone
  • Assistant Secretary in the International Affairs Secretariat, Najan Christopher
  • Steve Johnson, Consultant

Premier Smith announced the composition of the Brexit task force hours after British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday started formal negotiations on Britain’s exit from the EU. The process commenced with an official letter, which triggers Article 50 of the EU Treaty.

Premier Smith, in a statement, noted that the developments will affect the BVI.

“My government has remained engaged with the UK government and other stakeholders on the implications of Brexit on the BVI,” he said.

“I made clear that BVI wants to preserve as much of the benefits of its current EU relationship as possible in terms of policy dialogue, tariff and quota free trade, support for sustainable development and freedom of movement.”

Proactive, Not Naive

Premier Smith, in the meantime, said the territory is not naïve in relation to its expectations surrounding the Brexit negotiations.

“We are not naïve to the fact that Brexit negotiations will be complex, and that all of the UK family’s interests may not be met, and that potentially the UK and EU may not be able to secure a deal as generally desired. This could see our relationship with the EU negatively affected,” added Premier Smith.

“I want to reassure the public my government is being proactive on all fronts in protecting and advancing the BVI’s interests in this historic process during which Britain will exit the EU.”

Premier Smith. File photo

Premier Smith. File photo

Premier Smith also noted that the BVI is still trying to find other avenues to engage with the EU.

“As the benefits of our existing relationship with the EU under the Overseas Association Decision will be impacted due to Brexit, we must explore alternative options. CARIFORUM is the logical alternative.”

“To this end, I instructed BVI EU Representative Mr Benito Wheatley to begin exploring the possibility of deepening our participation in CARIFORUM, which is the Caribbean forum of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of Countries, also called the ACP for short,” Premier Smith further said.

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