Government creates Brexit policy group

A task force to tackle the impact of any Brexit-related issues on Bermuda is expected to include youth, charity, business and union representatives, the Premier said on Friday.

David Burt explained that Walton Brown, a Progressive Labour Party backbench MP, was asked to chair the working group, which will also have a member from the Opposition.

Mr Burt told the House of Assembly: “The full impact of Brexit on Overseas Territories generally, and Bermuda in particular, is difficult to measure, particularly against the background of the competing, and unsettled political interests in the UK.

“Considerations must include the prospect of a snap General Election, the potential for a change in the UK Government, and therefore, its policy towards the OTs.

“It is therefore proposed to strike a post-Brexit Working Group to examine these scenarios and prepare Bermuda for eventualities arising out of the post-Brexit UK.”

Mr Burt explained that it was important to renew preparations for a no-deal Brexit after the appointment of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

Britain is expected to leave the European Union on October 31, and Mr Johnson has tasked one of his Cabinet ministers to focus on preparing for a withdrawal without a deal.

Mr Burt told MPs that consequences for Britain included matters related to trade rules and tariffs, the possibility of manufacturers moving their operations to other countries in Europe, and the loss of some subsidies to the UK, such as £3 billion for farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy.

He said: “The UK would be free to set its own controls on immigration by EU nationals and the bloc could do the same for Britons.

“There could be long delays at borders if passport and customs checks are heightened.”

Mr Burt added: “I am pleased to advise this Honourable House, that HM Treasury has confirmed that Bermuda’s EU Solvency II equivalence, will be automatically maintained between Bermuda and the UK, after the UK’s departure from the EU, in either a ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’ scenario, as part of existing EU legislation that is being moved over into domestic UK law, upon Brexit.”

The Premier revealed that a draft Bill had been prepared to address any gaps in Bermuda law and MPs could expect to debate it in September.

Mr Burt explained: “As part of its remit, the working group will examine possible responses of Bermuda to any changes in UK relations with overseas territories, including any constitutional change, as well as any necessary changes to the existing regime of self-governance presently enjoyed by Bermuda.”

He added: “This is new territory, not just for Bermuda, but for the world.

“A European Union without the UK is something that had been often discussed, but is now on the cusp of becoming reality.

“This government recognises the uncertainty this can bring for Bermudians who live in and travel to the UK and Europe, and for those businesses who operate here and in those jurisdictions.

“We have been preparing for some time, and our London Office team is actively engaged in the work required, to ensure we have the best intelligence to support our policymaking.

“Come what may, Bermuda is well placed to manage the change that Brexit will bring.”

To read David Burt’s statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

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Published Jul 30, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 30, 2019 at 8:01 am)

Government creates Brexit policy group

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