Despite the heated exchange between local government and the United Kingdom recently, Premier Andrew Fahie has dismissed the notion that the relationship between Britain and the BVI is tense.
The Premier’s remarks come ahead of an upcoming trip to the UK to discuss, among other things, the loan guarantee for the territory’s ongoing hurricane recovery efforts.
He said: “We see it as a good relationship and now is a very [good] testing time because certain negotiations have to go down. But, you would respect the fact that in any negotiations, persons who are negotiating will always go with the intention to fight and debate and discuss in the best interest of the entity for which they are representing.”
“At the end of the day, we will do it as mature people and try to find a middle ground because in the 21st Century, we have to be able to find middle ground on both sides to make sure that we achieve what we have to achieve. So, it is not a matter of a strained relationship, at least in our eyes,” he added.
However, Premier Fahie said the kind of relationship the BVI would like with the UK going forward would be addressed in an upcoming constitutional review.
“We have an informal meeting coming up, and it will be one of the topics,” he told members of the media on Friday.
Edgy for first public meeting since dispute
Notwithstanding the Premier’s comments, the first public appearance between himself and Governor Augustus Jaspert since residents were made aware of their disagreement seemed strained at times.
The two made that joint public appearance in the small but packed room during the swearing-in of Deputy Premier, Vincent Wheatley on Friday.
A sense of discomfort and tension as particularly felt when the Premier opened the floor to the media for questions and himself and the Governor were quizzed on certain matters relating to the United Kingdom.
When asked about the reasons the BVI is holding on to the UK as its sovereign, Premier Fahie said: “I will speak to that in another forum.”
Governor will support BVI during upcoming negotiations with UK,
Governor Jaspert also appeared to be uncomfortable when the subject of the ongoing dispute between UK and BVI officials was raised.
The governor was asked what are some of his expectations ahead of the upcoming negotiations with the UK.
“As the Premier said, this is not really the forum for discussions on that,” Governor Jaspert said before stating that he intends to support the territory.
The Premier and the Governor have been at loggerheads over the appointment of new Permanent Secretaries, and also the issue surrounding Premier Fahie’s claim that the UK wanted the Recovery & Development Agency to have full control over the public’s purse.
Last week, Director of British Overseas Territories, Ben Merrick said engagements between the United Kingdom (UK) and the BVI have deteriorated since the Andrew Fahie-led administration took over government operations.
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