Memo to the British Government – this is the year 2022, not 1822
“I see a bad moon arising
I see trouble on the way“
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Over the past week, anyone who truly loves the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and freedom has had a heavy heart.
Not unpredictably, the Boris Johnson-led United Kingdom Government has used the pretext of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to launch an attempt to “suspend” the Constitution, or should I say “constitutional order” of the Virgin Islands, and impose direct rule from London.
Anyone who has studied the distant and recent colonial history of the Caribbean knew that this was never going to end well.
Former governor Augustus Jaspert, and others, put in place a plan to attempt to divide the people of the Virgin Islands and by extension, the Overseas Territories. Let us be real, once the British launch a CoI to this level, it generally is not for altruistic purposes.
The irony is that, as per the “constitutional order” of the Virgin Islands, the Governor is the head of every Cabinet meeting, signs off on all legislation and has ultimate responsibility for the Civil Service.
So, would they not have oversight of all government activity?
If the British Government were truly interested in accountability, then where is any evidence that they themselves practise it?
Let us look at what is going on in “Jolly Old England”.
● A Prime Minister that misled his own Parliament
● A finance minister that withheld that his wife was avoiding paying taxes
● Contracts for billions of pounds of faulty Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) given to friends of the ruling party
● Cuts in monthly benefits for the most needy
● Unabated rising costs of living
● Conservative MP jailed for child molestation
● Threats to privatise departments of the UK Civil Service
All of this happening over the past three months. So, let’s ask ourselves, who are they to speak about virtue and or accountability? Here is the thing, those who clearly fail to hold themselves to account are now attempting to impose morality over others.
Newsflash to those with a colonial mindset — this is the year 2022, not 1822.
“We think for them (the Boris Johnson-led government) in the 21st century, given all the issues that have arisen over the years, to be making the same decision is not in their best interest. Certainly it has never been in the interest of the region to have the colonial-type decision.” — Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada
There are regional and international organisations that can and will assist the Virgin Islands as they always have:
● United Nations (UN)
● Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
● Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
● United Kingdom Overseas Territory Association (UKOTA)
“Caricom believes that any action to suspend the House of Assembly in the BVI and impose direct rule from London would be inconsistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Accordingly, Caricom reminds the United Kingdom of its international obligations in respect of United Nations Resolution 1514 of 1960."
Most importantly, the Government of the Virgin Islands, now led by Acting Premier Natalio Wheatley, has begun to put the following in place:
● Denounced the illegal activity
● Formed a government of unity, which includes opposition members Marlon Penn and Melvin Turnbull Jr in the Cabinet
● Invited Britain and other islands to assist in instituting stronger checks and balances in government procedures.
In closing, there is no perfect government anywhere.
For all its undeniable imperfections, no one is remotely attempting to suspend the constitution of the United Kingdom and impose direct rule from an external country.
Therefore, it should not happen in the Virgin Islands, or any Overseas Territory. After all, this is 2022, not 1822.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org