BVI News

Premier distances himself from UK critics in gov’t

Leader of government business, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith. (BVI News photo)

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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  1. Mysterious says:

    Oh so u chose to distance yourself from them, but instead went after Fahie

  2. sam the man says:

    Must be difficult for the Premier when he has to contend with such discord and disunity both within the HOA and indeed even in his own party. He has done the right thing though in getting this approved. The UK will ignore S as he’s irrelevant really… The thing that matters is the Premier has assisted with achieving the setting up of an Agency that will monitor and safe guard responsible spending in recovery and lets face it…. (well done Dr Smith your patience has won the day and will release much needed loans for recovery) The agency is badly needed if we are honest enough to admit it. Not surprised with F voting against but v surprised with M voting against his own party, it would be interesting to know his actual reasons rather than this “I am more principled” than anybody else in Government nonsense!….

  3. daniel says:

    well done DOC–keep it up. let those guys show off. they are mere talkers.. none of them are doers they all [except one or two ] are in the house because of you. some of those barking could have entered that house of assembly only through back door -some to clean up others to supply drinks etc not worthy of being iin the house

  4. Albion says:

    Ronnie Skelton has a very short memory.

    When Hurricane Irma ravaged us and left us helpless, who did we turn to? The UK. And who sent their forces and aid supplies as soon as the storm hit? The UK.

    When we needed money to rebuild, who stepped up with guarantees, grants and aid? The UK.

    But Ronnie is like a spoiled child. Just because the UK wants to make sure the money is spent prudently and not spent wastefully (for example, on building hospitals or pier parks which go many times over budget, or subsidising failing airlines), he feels “insulted”.

    I think that is profoundly ungrateful. Let us hope that UK knows he does not speak for all people in the BVI. Let us hope that next time we are ravaged by a hurricane that the UK does not decide to withhold its help after being slapped in the face by a BVI Government Minister after offering us so much.

    The Premier is not the only one who should distance himself from those comments. Anyone with the smallest sense of moral gratitude should take a moment to thank the UK for the help that they extended to us, and continue to extent to us, in our darkest hour of need.

  5. Hypocrite says:

    Minister Skelton voted for the bill and now he decides to moan about UK assistance! and “taking advantage” of the situation – how disrespectful of support and assistance in securing a fantastically low interest loan…perhaps he and Mitch should saddle up and ride off into the sunset together and form their a “Party”!

    • Truth Sayer says:

      @ Hyprocrite
      I think sometimes we all blow hot air, get emotional, and miss important facts. Why kill the Members of Government for speaking their minds. The Premier is to blame for this because from the information given publicly, he did not share information which he had from the UK with his colleagues. Yet he wanted them go blindly and approve a document that he went ahead and give to the UK without letting them know. We need to follow these matters carefully because they may come back to haunt us. That was not and is not good leadership. Because they have now approved the bill, he has found it necessary to distant himself from them. Why didn’t he do it before they voted on the bill? Those who getting up shouting and ranting and not caring for the history of these islands are some of the same ones who got us where we are – in trouble. We should all note what the Chief Minister sent back to the UK – he certainly about Anguilla’s history and from whence they came to where they are now!

  6. Ppl in tola says:

    ? If we burn the bridges or go independent from the U.K, does it means we have to give up our passports and migrate back to the Tortola

  7. WOW says:

    … The ship is sinking.

  8. Now says:

    Fire Ronnie now.

    • Skelton Big Fan says:

      @ Now. Yes get the Premier to fire him and see what would happen. Ronnie does more for this country than you know. The $10,000.00 we are enjoying without paying taxes, it was him who did it for us. NHI it is him who did it for us. Hospital on Tortola and Mini Hospital on VG it is him who did it for us and I could name many more. He is one politician who will not through away the taxpayers monies willy nilly! Let us be grateful that he is on Board or else would have sunk already.

  9. Now boarding says:

    BVI Airways destined to failure town filled with NDP elected passengers.

  10. Accountability says:

    I swear some of the elected official have ZERO tact and diplomacy when it comes to representing their country and its people. While I agree the UK could have done more, their are clear laws in place as to why the BVI did not qualify for additional aid from the UK, it was because the GDP of the country is high. It’s so easy to blame others for your own shortcomings. The truth of the matter is, this country being economically wealthy should have money for recovery. Rather than blaming the UK, you need to look closer to home and admit to the voting public why there is no money in the pot for recovery.

    Or hold have a vote for independence and let the people speak for what they want. Stop embarrassing the BVI with ignorant hot air.

  11. Insider says:

    Seize the time. Time will tell.

  12. Sense says:

    He is the Premier so what do you expect him to say. We all know that is not Dr Smith’s style even if he doesnt agree with something or someone. All that noise and Skelton still voted yes. If they dont like the party or the leader why dont they leave? It makes no sense at all. If Doc wss such a bad leader they have the numbers to leave him hanging and form the Government so all the jumping up is just for show!

  13. ignore him says:

    R—– seems irrelevant these days.

    But if you distill what he is saying it is “why can’t the UK arrange for us to get lots of cheap money without looking at anything we do with it (and when we – no matter which party – cannot account to our people for how we spend all of the money)?” That is the question only a c– would think, let alone say publicly. Think about what these people are really saying and it should shock and revulse you.

  14. Resign says:

    Skelton should have resigned if he did not agree with the policy- Orlando should fire the ——-

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