Premier Andrew Fahie has denied telling a press outlet in the United Kingdom (UK) that the BVI is moving forward with a referendum that seeks greater independence from the UK.
In a UK Telegraph news article appearing over the weekend and titled ‘Tax haven threatens to ditch the Queen amid corruption row’, Premier Fahie reportedly claimed that local officials were laying the groundwork for a vote on greater independence.
But while speaking on ZBVI radio following the publication of the story, Fahie suggested the Telegraph misrepresented some parts of its interview with him.
“One of the papers ran a story trying to indicate that I stated that we’re threatening the UK to go independent but if you read the quotations of what was said in that article — I think it was the Telegraph — I was clearly stating to them, that’s not a call for elected officials. When the time comes for self-determination, that’s a call for the people of the Virgin Islands to make up their own mind,” Premier Fahie stated.
He further said the government’s job is rather to prepare the territory by ensuring sectors such as health and education are strong. He said the government’s role is also to ensure there are good governance systems in place.
“We prepare our people just like you prepare your children through primary school, through high school, through college so that when the time comes for them to go on their own — whenever that is — they would be prepared to handle it in whichever way they want to handle it. So that is what I was letting the media know. A few of them have taken it … to do sensational headlines. But we were able to be clear in what I said and when persons read the article they see clearly what I said and I stick to it,” the Premier added.
“According to The Telegraph, Premier Fahie said: “When it comes to that next move of self-determination, that has to be the decision and the action of the people of the Virgin Islands. Because as one of our older politicians who has since died used to say, and I quote him, ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God’.”
No corruption to see here
The Telegraph also reported that the Premier rejected any claims that the BVI is corrupt; despite an ongoing Commission of Inquiry examining issues of governance and potential corruption in the territory.
The territory’s leader reportedly insisted that anyone making those assertions “is trying to damage the BVI’s reputation, and is an irresponsible person.”
He further insisted that anyone that tries to brand the BVI as corrupt, needs to give an apology to the people of the Virgin Islands.
The Premier, along with a delegation comprised of Health Minister Carvin Malone and other government officials, is in the UK attending the annual Overseas Territories (OT) Joint Ministerial Council (JMC).
It is reportedly the first JMC in-person meeting since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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