Johnson response to Bryant worth tuning in for
I would encourage all Bermudians to view and/or listen to the debate from the House of Commons in London on same-sex marriage.
It will probably throw up a few surprises such as the extremely high level of debating, demonstrating skill, knowledge and preparation that will be devoid of personal attacks and childish antics.
We should also note the response by Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, and the keen interest of the Labour Party on this and many other issues that have recently arisen between Bermuda, the United Kingdom and even the European Union.
I would also humbly advise the Premier of Bermuda to not only view the debate, but to be in the House of Commons for this historic debate on Bermuda’s political stance on SSM.
David Burt has already developed a working relationship with the Foreign Secretary, and through Johnson he has developed a working relationship with the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
It is well documented that Bermuda and the Caribbean islands have benefited positively from the extended policies of both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister — in other words, from Britain’s Conservative government.
But it is now very debatable that Bermuda has used up its political currency when we appealed for the assistance of Britain to ensure that we were not placed on the EU blacklist. And May granted us that political favour.
But coming back to aid Bermuda on same-sex marriage will not be a political favour easily granted.
So let us actively listen to Johnson’s response to Chris Bryant’s speech on same-sex marriage, and let’s see just how far the British Government is prepared or even willing to turn the other way on same-sex marriage in the interest of a PLP General Election pledge.
But isn’t it time to develop a working relationship with the Opposition and most notably, Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn?
Because as this Conservative government applies its laser focus and energies to Brexit, issues such as same-sex marriage and the Paradise Papers will continue to be on Labour’s radar and they will continue to challenge in the House of Commons.
Why the Paradise Papers?
Because Corbyn has made it absolutely clear that he throws his political support behind both the BBC and The Guardian newspaper in the court case filed by Appleby.
Yet, it is ironic that Bermuda’s Labour government does not appear to share the same political ideological stance with the British Labour Opposition. But they do not necessarily have to on all political matters. However, there appears to be a fault line building between both political parties because the Paradise Papers has resulted in Revenue and Customs collecting an additional £2.8 billion (about $4 billion) in tax-avoidance funds.
So when Bermuda’s Parliament passes new legislation such as The Companies and Limited Liability Company (Beneficial Ownership) Amendment Act 2017, which demonstrates even more secrecy and would lead to more tax avoidance, Burt places Bermuda directly in the path of Corbyn’s political firing line.
To be blunt, Britain does not care if or when Bermuda seeks independence; that question has no hold over the UK. But the UK does care about getting its taxes from its tax-avoiding customers, and Corbyn wants every penny back in HMRC coffers. That is his British Overseas Territories mission on behalf of the British taxpayers.
So where the Foreign Secretary stands on same-sex marriage remains to be seen, but Bermuda’s political currency with the Conservative government has already been spent on the Paradise Papers. Even so, we should actively listen to his rebuttal to Bryant’s speech on Monday in the House of Commons.
VALIRIE MARCIA AKINSTALL
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