By Davion Smith, BVI News Staff
In recent times, the British Virgin Islands has been on the receiving end of strong-arm tactics from the UK – the territory’s parent nation.
Such tactics include forcing unfavourable policies on to the BVI and this has left a bitter taste in the mouths of locals; many of who are now keen to conclusively sever ties with the global super-power. But, the BVI is being reminded of less extreme measures to independence.
One of those options is to get a local representative in the Palace of Westminister where UK parliament meets.
“That can ultimately mean us having a ‘seat at the table’ where we actually have a minister of government, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Secretary of State. We can have a junior minister … There are various models [we can consider]. Whatever we want to propose [to the UK, we can],” said local attorney-at-law, Jamal Smith.
Boosting powers of BVI London Office
The attorney said an extension to the having a BVI representative in Westminister might also be to expand the powers of the BVI London Office.
“Right now, the London Office is more or less a lobby house. If you look at the offices that Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland have in the UK, it takes on a different kind of role because they have a seat at the table. So, the question is: do we want that seat at the table, and how is that to take shape?” Smith said.
Northern Island, for example, is often considered as a ‘province’ of the UK, given that it is located on a separate land mass to the three other countries that make up the UK – England, Scotland, and Wales.
However, the country still has its Northern Ireland Office which, unlike the BVI London Office, is suitably empowered to ensure ‘interests of Nothern Ireland are fully and effectively represented at Westminster’ and at ‘the heart of UK government’.
Attorney Smith said the BVI, like Nothern Ireland, can seek to have its London office receive more authority in Westminister. But, the attorney said this might create less desirable effects such as tax implications.
“If we are going to have this relationship with the UK and be part of global Britain, we have to ask if they are going to be tax implications to us if we do that and how can we negotiate to have what we want without the tax implications,” said Smith who was speaking recently during a series of community meetings organised by Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie.
The meetings were held to document residents’ comments on what they want the future of the BVI’s relationship with Britain to become.
These meetings are in response to a UK-commissioned inquiry that is currently assessing its governance and financing of Overseas Territories (OT) such as BVI, the benefits and ‘liabilities’ to the UK/OT relationship, and the representation of the OTs in the UK and internationally.
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