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Burt: OTs will unite against London

Uniting the territories: David Burt, the Premier

The Premier has accused the British Government of an attempt to impose “modern-day colonialism”.

David Burt said that the Overseas Territories would resist efforts by the British Government to enforce public registers of beneficial ownership.

He added: “Modern-day colonialism is what is being attempted by those persons in Westminster and I am certain that all Overseas Territories resist it vociferously and will continue to do so.”

He added the Overseas Territories would resist suggestions in a recent report by Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the UK should force the Overseas Territories to legalise same-sex marriage and that they should look at giving resident UK citizens the right to vote and run for office.

Mr Burt was speaking on Wednesday at the annual Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting in the Cayman Islands, held in the run-up to a meeting of the council in London this year.

Mr Burt told The Cayman Compass newspaper: “To see persons who don’t necessarily have a familiarity reverting to a position that we thought was long gone, where it seems as though Westminster feels they can dictate to Overseas Territories, is certainly a dangerous development.

“But this is a committee. The Government has taken a position and we will wait to see what happens in a future government, but I think one thing is for certain — all Overseas Territories are united to protect their constitutional position as it stands.”

Mr Burt said he had been told by other Overseas Territories at the Caymans meeting that the level of engagement between the report writers and some jurisdictions was “very low”.

He added that the Overseas Territories would unite to protect each other from British interference in domestic affairs.

Mr Burt said: “There are many different issues that we deal with, but at the end of the day if there is an issue that is affecting the Falklands or that is affecting Montserrat, we have to stand united so that we can be sure that our constitutional arrangements are respected by the United Kingdom.”

Other Overseas Territory leaders backed Mr Burt’s stance.

Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Premier of the Turks and Caicos, predicted there would be further pressure from the UK on same-sex marriage and voting rights for UK citizens.

She said: “It is a matter of constitutional overreach, and respecting territories rights to choose how they want to govern, how they want to grow their countries, who they want to run in their elections and certainly their culture and religious beliefs.”

Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Minister for Commerce, said: “There is no way today we can accept modern colonialism through the back door by allowing these things to happen.

“On that, as has been demonstrated today, we are all 100 per cent on the same page.”