BVI open to "alternative" relationship with the UK

Pedro Gonçalves
BVI open to "alternative" relationship with the UK

The BVI government has announced that the jurisdiction is willing to consider "alternative" relationships with the UK, like a "free association", as the Overseas Territories keep clashing with Westminter about financial reforms and public registers.

Free association for the territory would  mean having a political alliance with the UK that does not come with "restrictions" in how the BVI governs itself.

While making it clear that the BVI is not pushing to gain independence, the government said that it needed to look at options ahead of the territory's next constitutional review. 

There are other options beside independence that must be thought through, such as free association"

Special envoy for the government Benito Wheatley mentioned considerations for free association while addressing the United Nation's Special Committee on Decolonization (C-24) in New York .

Wheatley said: "My purpose for being here today is not to embarrass the United Kingdom. The government still has a responsibility to ensure that the people of the British Virgin Islands are aware of the options available as they think about the territory's future. There are other options beside independence that must be thought through, such as free association," local news outlet BVI News reports. 

"It is in the interest of both the UK and BVI and that the UK and Overseas Territories renew their modern partnership that was predicated on mutual respect and responsibility. The opportunity should not be missed," he added.

The territory's next constitutional review is likely to take place next year.

"We would welcome the UN sitting as an official observer to the public deliberations involved," Wheatley said.

The C-24 is a committee that was established in 1961 to deal with the issues of decolonization. Though noting that the relationship between the BVI and the UK has been good, Wheatley said this good rapport does not preclude the BVI from updating the C-24 on the status of that relationship.

The Overseas Territories have accused London of  imposition.

"Whether it's beneficial ownership, same-sex marriage, or whatever, imposition is what is being proposed, so we stand with our territories, or sister territories who are affected," said Montserratian Premier Donaldson Romeo.

"You can't dictate from Westminster, you can't legislate from Westminster, for UK overseas territories," added Falkland Islands MLA Teslyn Barkman.

For the Overseas Territories, the issue boils down to fairness of play. "There is no way we today can accept modern colonialism through the back door by allowing these sort of things to happen," said Albert Isola.


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