BVI News

COMMENTARY: C’bbean countries autonomous of the UK and EU are a model for OTs to follow

By Dickson Igwe, Contributor

Post-Brexit Britain, and the events before and after, mean that a referendum must now be held in the Caribbean Overseas territories, on deciding whether or not these islands move towards greater autonomy, either within the UK, or the European Union.

Brexit has unleashed great anger among the Remain- Remoaner- Constituency in the UK, as expected: more so, at the periphery of the UK. Talk of unity is a ‘con’.

Britain remains divided down the middle on Brexit. That will not change. Brexit has not simply exposed the divisions inherent in UK society, but like a blanket pulled away, Brexit has exposed the racism and prejudices that have always been part of Britain.

That the UK will return to the EU is inevitable in this Old Boy’s opinion. As the over 60s pass on, the under 50s are much more European than their parents.

Then, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to join the EU, after referendums of their own, preparations for these votes will start to happen, maybe in a matter of months. And even Wales has started to ‘kick up’ against Brexit and sees the Welsh future as part of the European Union.

The new UK reality

There is a new UK reality, post the UK exiting the EU. Brexit, as this Old Boy has warned, is far from over. In fact, Brexit is now entering the turmoil and convulsion phase.

The post-Brexit seas will be as stormy and volatile as ever. The UK will consist of little more than England and the Oversea Territories in the coming years. And that is if the OTs are willing to remain with the England component of the Old UK.

And the idea that Donald Trump and a trans-Atlantic Alliance with the USA will save the day has become laughable. Trump is as unpredictable as ever. China and India are the new game in town, for now. And most intelligent observers know China is a risky bet: an absolute dictatorship with a culture completely alien to western mores.

Difficult EU

Another matter: the European Union is prepared to be as uncooperative as Brexiters have been, in upcoming Brexit negotiations. OK. Caribbean Overseas Territory referendums should be held after extensive discussion and debate on whether or not these islands should become individually independent, or unite, to become autonomous territories of the UK, or European Union.

Autonomy means complete independence from the UK in domestic matters, after a thorough constitutional review, and new constitutional process that stresses Separation of Powers.

OTs should adopt a Governor General

That process must further be loaded with checks and balances. Autonomous OTs should adopt a Governor General of the Caribbean OTs and Privy Councillor, nominated by Premiers in Council, and legislators in committee.

The OTs Governor-General, a person of huge savvy, pedigree, and intellect, will act as constitutional guardian, Head of National Security, and OTs ambassador to the world at large.

The Governor will be Head of the various Public Services in the OTs, assisted by Governors of each OT: much the same as it is today. Governors too will be appointed by Premiers in Council and committees made up of all three branches of government: Legislative, executive and judicial.

OT Chief Justice

A Chief Justice of the OTs who sits on the Privy Council is also an option. Now, one of the ‘peeves’ of the Caribbean Oversea territories on Brexit is the fact that these dependent territories of the UK were not consulted on the Brexit process at any stage.

Then OT Citizens were to find out at the very last minute that they were – in the long run- to be stripped of any benefits and status they possessed from the EU as territories of a UK, exiting the Union. Then, in a recent article, a Virgin Islands Official with responsibility to the Premier for international affairs stated that Post Brexit, the OTs would have to reassess their relationship with the UK.

OTs an afterthought

This was a very valid assertion. It is clear from the whole ‘Brexit saga’ that the Caribbean OTs were merely an afterthought in the process: backwaters, forgotten outposts.

In any event, Foreign Office types, and most UK expats will happily tell natives that the UK would be gladly rid of the Overseas territories – or as one expat friend told this old boy- the UK is ambivalent towards a British Virgin Islands that is hanging on to the “apron strings of the motherland: sucking off mummy’s teats”.

There is a huge caveat for the Virgin Islands Independence debate: and that is that in a world that is integrating into super states and super regions, the OTs will not survive as single independent island nations, unless they form constitutional unions, and equally concrete relationships, with geographically, culturally and socially similar countries.

USVI relationship with BVI is vital

That is why regional organizations such as CARICOM and the OECS are crucial for Caribbean island jurisdictions. The United States Virgin Islands is a further relationship that is vital for these British Virgin Islands. It is critical that Post Brexit, that the Overseas Territories not be caught flat-footed.

One simply has to read the UK news to see what is happening in the UK, as the country changes beyond recognition. Today the UK has more in common with China, India, and the Mid-East, than the Caribbean, with an authoritarian government that practically owns parliament.

This will lead to unpredictability and overreach in future relations with Caribbean OTs. Consequently, the OTs must come together as a single bloc in a pre-union, with premiers, and Chief Ministers, and high officials, holding regular meetings.

Ultimately a Secretariat and a Council of OT Premiers, and even a regional OT assembly where OT legislators in the various OTs can sit together and discuss and vote on specific matters, is warranted.

If ever there was a time for OT leaders to unite, and discuss and debate, the constitutional, social, and economic status, and future, of the Caribbean OTs, the time is now. And not wait until one morning, where we all wake up to learn that the New UK wants to cut that proverbial apron string, and let us loose into a very dangerous world.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

25 Comments

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  1. Saturday says:

    Oh it’s Saturday and the windbag has been let loose. Let’s all thank BVINews that they only publish this gas attack once a week. I wonder why only he is given a platform for his one sided take on issues and certainly his racist views. Will this news service publish someone else or even post this comment. Well, if anyone takes the time to read the nonsense (I haven’t) and is able to make it to the end without falling asleep then you are a true devoted fan of the fat man.

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    • Cal a racist a racist says:

      He is a racist

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      • Time to accept that .... says:

        It is time for everybody to accept that Igwe is a racist.

        It is also time for Igwe to accept that the majority of people in the UK favoured leaving the EU, and now that the UK has left even more people think it was a good idea. The EU is in crisis – watch it implode.

        Why would the EU want closer association with the Caribbean – they needs net contributors not net takers to the EU budget, and nowhere in the Caribbean would be a net payer.
        Also why would the Caribbean want to surrender sovereignty to an unelected corrupt racist organisation that is quickly moving towards bankruptcy?

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        • @ Time to accept that says:

          You are so wrong- over 50% are clearly remain – and how is Igwe a racist- you are the racist- you come on line every week to abuse the great man – and you hide your perversions and prejudice behind your anonymous- your words and patterns are clearly racist – Igwe is wrong color to be a racist in any event

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          • Really? says:

            I think it is extremely unclear how many people are for/against Brexit. The last general election was a sign that people are fed up with uncertainty, but not necessarily that they wanted Brexit per-se.
            As for Igwe being the wrong colour to be a racist, anyone can be a racist, you just have to hate someone based on your own lack of empathy and humanity. Shame…

    • To Igwe;'s Great Hater- says:

      Go get yourself a life and stop living for Saturday when the Great Man offers us his views and vision

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    • Racist Idiot says:

      You say it yourself- you don’t read Igwe’s articles- you simply come on here to hate and spew your racism

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  2. @Saturday says:

    And, you are a devoted fan of the big, fat red, pale devil. In fact, you appear to be his prince and servant.

    Were not for hate, you would be void of intellect or emotional thought or intelligence..

    So tired of inhaling your nocious saturday gas.

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    • Say-who? says:

      Sorry to say that the Devil doesn’t exist – even the official grown-up churches recognise there is no hell nowadays. Personally, I prefer Santa Claus as my favourite fictional figure in red.

  3. Drivel says:

    Absolute drivel each week, it is just his own warped personal opinion and he posts as if it is fact. The man is clueless on the whole.

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  4. Nonsense says:

    Old boy, the UK will never rejoin the EU. The EU had a 2018 net trade surplus with the UK of 66 billion pounds. Plus the EU received about 17 billion in annual UK membership fees. The EU will lose big time because the UK will never agree to their one-sided trade demands. The UK will trade with the EU under WTO rules and be better off.

    Most of the EU countries are unproductive net receivers and they speak 23 different languages. The EU will no longer be able to dump cheap Eastern European labor on the UK market. Poland and Hungary are racist unproductive countries that openly defy EU directives.

    The EU regularly blacklists countries that do not follow its tax directives, yet there are tax havens in the EU. This is an evil alliance, and the UK is lucky to be rid of it.

    There will be more prosperity for the UK in a trade alliance with the English-speaking Commonwealth (India, Australia, Canada, Caribbean, former African colonies etc…. The new UK immigration rules will favor English-speaking commonwealth countries over non-English speaking EU countries.

    Like I said, the UK will never rejoin the EU. And the EU should remember that the UK has nuclear weapons.

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    • @ Nonsense says:

      You are simply wrong sir – will happen after 5-10 wasted years

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      • Who here is right? says:

        You are potentially both wrong.

        The UK voting to leave EU in 2016 started exposing some cracks that very possibly could have been fixed if UK had stayed in. Instead, the EU will likely come under huge pressure due to resurgence in national interests over the common good (as per example of Hungary).

        The UK is highly unlikely to rejoin a fractured Europe in the next 10 years, but it is also very doubtful that the UK economy will boom with international trade, especially if the climate and green agenda continues to be (rightfully) pushed – the carbon footprint of trading with partners beyond Europe will be horrendous.

  5. E. Leonard says:

    True, the UK exited from the EU on January 31, 2020 but it is still in negotiations with the EU so the jury is still out on what Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will do, as well as on the impact on Overseas Territories (Caribbean), ie, Bermuda, TCI, CI, VI, Anguilla and Montserrat and the crown dependencies, ie, Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Jersey and Bailiwick of Guernsey.

    The future is uncertain for Overseas Territories (OT) but though per UN charter they are entitled to pursue self determination, independence, ie, going it alone may not be the best option. Developing economic independence before political independence must be a top priority. The Caribbean OTs spread from Bermuda to Anguilla to TCI to VI to CI and OT unification may be challenging. For all the Caribbean OTs, tourism is the primary economy and its also the primary economy of many larger islands. IMO, the Caribbean (Anglohone countries) regional countries would have been stronger and better off if the West Indies Federation that lasted from 1958-1962 had survived. Instead, it split apart resulting in a number of small, single economy independent countries.

    Unity is strength. For the good of the region and its people, the region must pool its resources and come together and form some type of union. In the o past, insularity and freedom of movement have been a stumbling blocks for unification. It is time to shed this outlook and work collectively and collaboratively for the good of the region. Unification works for the US, Canada, Australia, Europe……etc so it can work for the Caribbean. Unification in these advanced countries provided a higher quality of life, standard of living…….etc for residents. OTs and the rest of region must look well beyond Brexit. Is the OTs becoming an OT of the EU an option?

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    • Bystander says:

      What is interesting is that the Caribbean Federation split apart notwithstanding that the members spoke the same language, had similar heritage and the same legal system. Nevertheless the individual members wished to govern themselves. Why is it surprising therefore that UK wished to do so separate from a lot of countries with different languages, heritages and legal systems. I don’t think the UK will be the last to leave the EU. I suspect the whole institution will collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions and disparities between rich states and poor ones.

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    • Diaspora says:

      Though the animating forces (racism, discrimination, xenophobia) for Brexit are clear, the future for the UK, OTs and crown dependencies is murky and uncertain. Residents of the UK had the opportunity in June 2016 to vote on the referendum to either a)exit or b)remain in the EU. However, OTs, except Gibraltar, not being an integral part of the UK were voiceless on the issue, the choice. They were aboard the Brexit train but had no vote whether it a)stayed on the track or b)derailed; today, approx four years later the impact on their future is still uncertainty.

      Further, Gibraltar is an OT of the UK and was the only OT that was essentially part of the EU and had a vote on the referendum. Think Gibraltarians voted to remain. However, being an OT of the UK and since a slight majority of Britons (51.9%) voted to leave, Gibraltar also exited the EU. Moreover, as the UK has a dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, it too has a dispute with Spain over Gibraltar.

      The Brexit situation is a royal mess and the only certainty for the 14 UK OTs is the uncertainty. The OTs have to debate and decide on the way forward. Would they better off staying as UK OTs, becoming OCT (Overseas Country Territory) of the EU or forming some other type of alliance? The UK OTs are for the most part small, remote, resource-poor, have-not islands and are also Small Island Developing States(SIDS) so no entity is running with Usain Bolt liked speed to link up with them.

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      • RealPol says:

        “The UK OTs are for the most part small, remote, resource-poor, have-not islands and are also Small Island Developing States(SIDS) so no entity is running with Usain Bolt liked speed to link up with them.” This is real talk.

        The 14 UK OTs are: Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Antarctic Territory, Diego Garcia (the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)), the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, the Pitcairn, Saint Helena and Ascension, South Georgia and Sandwich Island and Turks and Caicos Islands.

        There may be high interest in Antartica due to its vastness and its unlimited potential.

        • @RealPol says:

          @RealPol, Antartica is a vast frigid waste land so why you think the UK or anyone has any high interest in it? Does it have oil, strategic minerals or precious metal?

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    • Quiet Rebel says:

      The divide and rule strategy employed during Slavery and even after Emancipation planted the seed for disunity and insularity taking root and plaguing the region. The supposedly Big 4, ie, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, and Barbados practice insularity; they were more economically prosperous and didn’t want migration from the smaller islands, small fry, smallies……….etc. As an example, this was highly evident in West Indies cricket; no one from the smaller islands no matter how talented could be “capped” for the West Indies team.

      Nonetheless, this attitude started to change in the 60s with emergence and domination of small island cricketers, ie, Sir Vivian Richards, Anderson Roberts, Elquimedo Willet, Richie Richardson, Irvin and Grayson Shillingford……..etc. In the mean time, nationalism, regionalism, national sovereignty …..etc started to emerge. Thus a West Indies Federation was created consisting of Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, and most of Leeward and Windward Islands (CI, TCI, Anguilla, Montserrat were not included; British Guiana and Belize had observer status); VI just recently freed from the Leeward Federation and gaining colony status with UK didn’t join the West Indies Federation. Clearly missing was the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Federation had two regional carrier ships, ie, Federal Palm and Federal Maple. However, the Federation was short-lived, lasting from 03 January 1958 to 31 May 1962.

      Dr Eric Williams, leader of Trinidad, made the now infamous quote or famous quote depending on your perspective: “One from ten leave nought.” Then in Feb 1961, Dr. Williams pulled Trinidad from the Federation followed by the UK dissolving the Federation. Jamaica went independent on 06 August 1962, starting the independence parade which ended with St. Kitts. Among former Anglophone countries, only CI, TCI, Anguilla and Montserrat have not attained independence, remaining as OTs of the UK.

      Moreover, the independence of all these small dots up and down the Caribbean Sea resulted in haves and have nots, 1% and 99%, small elitist class and a large low economic class with a tiny middle class. In the Islands, survival is a daily struggle, a constant hustle. Now, once scorned, immigrants from the larger islands, the Big 4 and others are flocking to the smaller islands. Agree that these small dots, with a one fragile economy (tourism, sugar cane , banana, cotton…..etc read last rites), with small population…….etc cannot survive as discrete components; they have to unite, Also agree that, perhaps, the region would have been better off if the West Indies Federation was given a fighting chance. Insularity and fighting over a capital killed it. A reunification renaissance push is needed.

  6. ?? says:

    @ E.Leonard

    You forgot who was the first to break away, the virgin islands and Anguilla, and because not enough attention and Aid were coming to the smaller territories but were going to the larger countries. Now decades later there is much migration to those smaller territories that broke away and invested heavily in Tourism by larger territories whose banana and sugar industries fell apart.

    There is unity thought in the OECS and CARICOM groups and which have served these former British colonies. The OECS grouping I think is having marked success and should remain. The push for political and open borders should remain as is. Individual sovereignty and restricted travel movements at the present ARE JUST FINE.

    • E. Leonard says:

      @??, no diss to Anguilla intended; it was inherently left off the list. True, Anguilla was original part of St Kitts ( Saint Christopher), Nevis and Anguilla(1967) during the period of Associated Statehood, period of semi-political independence of former British colonies and the precursor to independence for many regional countries. Anguilla rebelled against the union, UK sent troops to quell the rebellion and Anguilla was ceded from the union in 1971. Further, I think with the break up of the Leeward Island Federation in 1956 the VI became a colony of the UK (direct report 1960) and didn’t join the short lived (1958-62) West Indies Federation.

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      • Centennial says:

        Born in 1998, I’m learning that there is a Pre-Columbus, Pre-emancipation, Post-emancipation and Associated Statehood/independence period story to narrate. There is over 500 years of colonial rule in the UK ‘s OTs. Which there was more focus on Caribbean/West Indian history, culture, heritage, economics and politics in school. The revisionist bent does not tell the full story. As a people, we must be proud of our history, struggles, fights, setbacks and progress. We must be forward looking.

  7. Maxwell says:

    Good read Mr. Igwe. I a, looking forward to next week’s article. Let the racists among us continue to hate.

  8. Devon says:

    These racist idiots can only come on here and talk crap about the views of Igwe but I bet my last dollar they won’t come public so we can cut their asses and send them right back where they came from.

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