Bermuda should have its say on Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech in Germany last week on the United Kingdom’s judicial and security frameworks moving forward as the UK divorces the European Union.
The Munich Security Conference was attended by 70 heads of state, global policymakers, key cybersecurity experts, academics, researchers and NGOs. Notably, this conference is the equivalent, in leadership and importance, to the World Economic Conference held annually in Davos, Switzerland.
The conference is heavily slated towards combined-arms warfare, nuclear threats and terrorism, but it placed significant emphasis on eminent cyberthreats and real cyberattacks. And, although May did not refer to Bermuda specifically, she placed cybersecurity at the centre of her speech as she highlighted how cyberattacks have interfered in both the British referendum to leave the EU and the British General Election.
Noted, May spelt out the importance of forging a new international agreement of security arrangements between the EU and Britain developing from the main frameworks of the law and cybersecurity.
Equally important, May stated unequivocally that Britain will leave the European Court of Justice, with more details forthcoming.
She outlined the strong desire for the EU to continue to be a partner on matters of national and international security with regard to terrorism cyberattacks and the exchange and flow of information essential to the national interest of all governments between and within Britain and the EU.
In noting the above, May called for a new international agreement to be struck between Britain and the EU with cybersecurity at its core.
Immediately after May spoke, EU president Jean-Claude Juncker spoke confirming that the EU will strike a separate international agreement with the UK on cybersecurity.
Now, here is a golden opportunity for Bermuda to request to engage with Britain in the negotiations of this new cybersecurity international agreement.
And to make my point, let me digress slightly to the hacking of Appleby and the subsequent international fallout. Undoubtedly, it will be taken as a benchmark “casebook study’ in journalism, law and tax accountancy, including the impact, damage and risk to the island’s reputation.
However, in future, any company in Bermuda could be hacked for different and far more nefarious reasons; think of the hospital, airport, police service, banking, various departments of government, etc. So, Bermuda stands to offer valuable insight both as a direct contributor to the negotiations, and as a beneficiary of the negotiations and drafting of this new international agreement, which could then strength our internal laws on cybersecurity.
Needless to say, it is a very rare opportunity for the Government of Bermuda and the Overseas Territories to be involved in this type and level of negotiations, as Brexit is unlikely to ever happen again.
In fact, as Michael Dunkley prepares to speak as a panellist at a conference in Miami on the Paradise Papers, as the former premier and former national security minister, there is keen international interest in how Bermuda navigates its way forward from this international setback.
Thus, the Progressive Labour Party Minister of National Security, Wayne Caines, may find it in Bermuda’s national interest to seek to be involved in the negotiations of the international agreements on cybersecurity as it develops between the relevant parties to shape the policy position of Britain with the input of the Overseas Territories.
Notwithstanding that, I may not like every policy that flows from the PLP, but this is a genuine, transparent and timely opportunity to enter the discussions while Brexit international agreements are in the formative stages.
And, finally, I do applaud David Burt for deciding to open an office in Brussels. But I must ask, how does he envision Brussels negotiating directly with Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, when the EU firmly refused to negotiate directly with Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, when she went to Brussels to negotiate on behalf of Scotland? And Scotland has more devolved powers from Britain than Bermuda. Yet, it wasn’t Britain who refused to allow Scotland to negotiate separately; it was the EU that adamantly refused to negotiate because Scotland is not a sovereign nation.
Perhaps by joining with Britain in negotiations with the EU, Bermuda could navigate a positive path forward.
VALIRIE MARCIA AKINSTALL
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