In the long run, Brexit is unsustainable, and it will impact British overseas territories in the Caribbean.
A preamble is appropriate: The new Virgin Islands government has stated that maritime learning and the pursuit of a maritime culture will be a core priority of its long-term vision for the VI.
Maritime learning, marine science and technology, boating and seafaring are great components of any vision for the future of the VI economy.
The territory possesses a rich maritime ecosystem. The archipelago is a natural sailing and seafaring destination with a pristine geography that promises to become a huge economic boon for natives and residents.
The maritime economy is systemic to VI prosperity in the long run. Why? Because these islands depend on the sea for their existence.
The maritime economy and culture represent an opportunity for a generation of young Virgin Islanders to learn and adopt critical seafaring and ocean sciences skills. A focus on maritime fits with a new stress on eco-tourism and turning the VI into a self-sustaining agricultural and fishing economy. The aforementioned can drive strong, sustainable economic growth.
‘The Brexit matter’
In another vein, make no mistake: The Brexit matter — the United Kingdom’s plan to leave the European Union on March 29 — is a huge one for the Caribbean overseas territories. Why? Because, as overseas territories of Great Britain — another word for glorified colonies — whenever Westminster coughs, the OTs catch pneumonia.
A typical example is the threat to remove belonger status, impose same-sex marriage, and require public company registers. These are impositions on the OTs without any thought of what the OTs need and want. The Caribbean OTs are an afterthought for the UK — make no mistake.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Crown dependencies are not taking these impositions lying down. The CDs have stated that as self-governing jurisdictions they are under no obligation to obey rules laid down by the UK. The Caribbean OTs must adopt the same approach.
However, it is critical all the OTs act together as one single and united “confederation” in any negotiations with Westminster and Whitehall.
Brexit is a constitutional crisis for the UK. The relationships between the UK and its various constituent countries and territories are driven by convention and historical precedent as stated in Britain’s unwritten constitution.
That is the reason any negotiations between the Caribbean OTs and the UK must be driven by appropriate experts in concert with OT political leaders.
The preceding is a hugely complex matter. It is not emotion. OTs must engineer comprehensive assessments on how the OTs’ links to a Brexit-preoccupied UK are being impacted by the present Brexit impasse.
No one can predict how Brexit will turn out. The threat of a UK breakup in the near future is very real. Consequently, all assertions on OTs by any parliamentary committee are premature, before the UK’s post-Brexit constitutional character is decided.
OT leaders must hold the UK’s feet to the fire on Brexit. This is simply not the time for Britain’s Parliament to make any decision on OTs without full participation by OTs on Brexit and how the UK leaving Europe will impact the lives of OT residents.
Brexit colours every aspect of UK politics, including the UK’s administration of its OTs.
And once again with all the talk of consultation between OTs and the UK, OTs must ask why the Caribbean OTs were completely ignored on the Brexit matter — a matter that directly impacts their welfare, aspirations, and their constitutional relationship with the mainland UK?
Connect with Mr. Igwe on Facebook and Twitter.