By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has distanced himself from recent statements in the House of Assembly that criticised the United Kingdom government and insulted its leader, Prime Minister Theresa May.
During the recently-concluded debate of the UK-mandated Virgin Islands Recovery Agency Bill, Health Minister Ronnie Skelton was one of the UK’s harshest critics.
He effectively described the European nation as being disdainful and supercilious towards the BVI, adding that the UK has contributed little to nothing to the BVI’s development.
“Because we were hit by the two hurricanes all of a sudden they see an opportunity to take advantage of our vulnerabilities. Instead of trying to help us, all of these rules are coming now – what we should do, and what we can’t do … If they don’t want to help us, they need to tell us they don’t want to help us,” Skelton said.
He suggested that the BVI should proverbially ‘burn the bridge’ between the BVI and the UK. He further cursed the motherland for questioning the integrity of BVI ministers.
While firing at the UK’s leadership, Skelton said: “The Prime Minister of England; her credibility is almost zero”.
However, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said on local radio recently that he does not share those sentiments.
“I like to state categorically that I disassociate myself from those statements. I think that the UK government has been very helpful to us after the hurricanes,” Premier Smith said.
The Premier said some may argue that the UK could have done more for the BVI. But, he believes the UK has done plenty, so far.
He pointed to the UK grants the BVI received since the September 2017 disasters as well as the military support the BVI received post-Hurricane Irma.
Dr Smith also reasoned that the £300 million (more than $400 million) loan guarantee the BVI is receiving from the UK is a testament to the mother nation’s generosity.
Why the brouhaha?
A considerable percentage of legislators in the territory’s House of Assembly were unhappy with the UK because of the conditions the British nation insisted the BVI follow to benefit from the aforementioned loan guarantee.
A number of these conditions were detailed in documents from the UK, and in the Recovery Agency Act, which passed in the House on Tuesday.
It passed after a few amendments were made to make the Bill more palatable for local legislators.
Of the 13 members in the House, 10 voted in favour of the Bill, two voted against, and one was absent for the vote.
Minister Skelton was among the 10 who voted favourably.
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