By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff
Former Virgin Islands Party candidate Rajah Smith has accused the government of wrongfully pushing for the territory’s independence by showing signs of discord towards the United Kingdom (UK).
Smith said the conflict with Britain hinges on what he describes as ‘baseless allegations’ of racism and slavery.
The BVI has been at loggerheads with Britain over their ongoing public registers issue.
“I don’t support independence nor a path to self-determination. Rather, I call for strengthening our ties with the UK. A strong UK is a strong Virgin Islands … [and] the UK poses no real risk to our territory and neither to its people,” Smith said.
He further said, despite seemingly pushing the independence agenda, no elected official has told residents how they will be better off as an independent territory.
“Neither have they (elected officials) addressed areas of concern such as national security, citizenship, currency [nor] how does independence advance the lives of our people.”
UK’s inquiry a good idea
In the meantime, Smith said he welcomed the UK-sanctioned ‘inquiry’, which is in relation to the future of Britain’s constitutional relationship with Overseas Territories such as the BVI.
He said persons with interests in the BVI should participate in the inquiry, which he said is going to shape the territory’s economy.
The UK said the inquiry is to attempt to find a balance between ‘respecting the principle of self-governance’ and ‘ensuring the security and stability’ of British Overseas Territories.
Build a UK military base in BVI
Smith, in the meantime, stated there are certain areas that he would like improved locally while, at the same time, strengthening the existing BVI-UK bond.
He suggested that noncombatant training base be created in the BVI for Her Majesty’s Royal Armed Forces.
While he gave no reasons for his proposition, Smith said the military base could be built on one of the many uninhabited islands or on Tortola in a remote location with an army of at least 500.
He also believes the post of Governor and Deputy Governor should be elected by the people while the UK could set up an embassy or consulate and continue to remain head of state with their appointed Crown representative.
“While this might seem farfetched, we can settle for the role of Deputy Governor, to be an elected position,” he added.
Smith said further the territory should focus on farming and trade relations as a way to bolster the economy
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