Brexit Decisions Being Made For Us Without Us Will Hurt Turks And Caicos
On June 23rd 2016, the People of the UK decided that they wanted a divorce from the European Union. As most of us are aware, TCI is just one of the UK’s 14 overseas territories. The UK did not count us enough to allow us to vote on the question of whether we wanted to remain a part of the EU. Neither did they care enough to ask the other OT’s not even their favorite territory Bermuda to vote on whether to remain in the EU or not. However, the UK did ask their so-called “rock” Gibraltar to vote on the divorce from the EU. 90% of Gibraltar voted to remain a part of the EU.
The repercussions of the UK divorcing itself from the EU have major consequences and the UK has gone into overdrive establishing a plethora of committees to examine and negotiate a super sweet deal as a part of the divorce settlement. The UK or as some like to call it, our Mother’s divorce, will have major consequences for us. Consequences that will hit us in the pocket, even down to our little children will be hit right in their backpack. Let me explain, although, we like to boast that we are no longer on grant and aid, which is somewhat true to the literal sense, we are however on grants from the EU. In the past, the EU has given us grant upon grant through the EDF (European Development Fund) which the most renown use has been the building of the Twin Islands Causeway. Funds from the EU also helped in the rebuilding of homes destroyed by Hurricane Hanna and Ike, and it is proposed to be used to aid in the building of an additional Primary School in Provo. Leaving the EU may mean TCI no longer has access to the EDF and therefore funds which are committed for various projects including the building of this new primary school may fall away. In addition, Leaving the EU will have significant impact on the freedom of movement and employment for us in EU member countries and no doubt will shrink the clout of the UK passport upon which a great deal of Turks and Caicos Islanders rely on for access, business and general travel.
As a country, having experienced these benefits of being a part of the EU, it is unconscionable for the UK to drag us away from all of these benefits, without the courtesy of having a say in what is best for us. A many good number of us, do appreciate the relationship with the EU and the vast benefits that having a direct relationship will bring to us. The European Declaration of Human Rights more than the British constitution has given protection to our democracy. In fact, it was the EU that found the Interim Government of “one man rule” so repugnant as to have insisted on elections; ending our constitutional suspension.
It is therefore wise that our Government should establish a Brexit committee to:
- Produce a set of TCI recommendations for a continued relationship with the EU;
- Educate and inform our citizens of the importance of TCI’s relationship with the EU.
- Inform the British Government and the EU of our perspective;
- Examine how best we may continue the TCI relationship with the EU without the UK,
- Have the UK negotiate for TCI said recommendations synchronized with the UK Divorce settlement; failing which a TCI Brexit committee would have to simply advance the position ourselves.
Mark Fulford, is the Managing Partner of F Chambers Attorneys, one of the leading law firms in TCI.