No To Independence: Yes To Constitutional Advancement – Survey

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Based on the discussions during the meetings that were held by Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Andrew Fahie on Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Tortola and Virgin Gorda it appears that the citizens of the Territory are not in favor of the BVI becoming independent.

The view that the BVI should remain part of the United Kingdom was mentioned to Hon. Fahie and the representatives from the five subcommittees that were tasked with gathering information for the UK’s select Foreign Affairs Committee.

The exercise to garner the views, which were submitted on 3 September was in relation to the inquiry by the Special Select Committee to ascertain the future relationships between the United Kingdom and the 14 Overseas Territories (OTs).

During a press briefing on 3 September Jamal Smith who was Chair of the sub-committee that dealt with the Inquiry subject of Governance of the OTs disclosed that the residents expressed that they are not in favor of independence.

He explained that the people seemed more keen to see constitutional changes as opposed to independence. “We got a lot of support for things that would lend themselves to constitutional reform, so I suspect that Constitutional reform must be something that the British Government sees as important out of this report,” Smith noted.

“What people want to see is an improved system of government that puts the proper checks and balances in place and ensures that we have better systems. As it relates to the relationship with the UK there was a lot of discussions in relations to,” he added.

While speaking in the House of Assembly on 10 July in response to the calls for referendum on the subject of independence that were made by members of the House of Assembly Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith said that he agrees that the people of the Territory should be allowed to decide on various pressing issues via a referendum. However, the BVI Leader did not commit to putting forward such a referendum.

 In addressing the referendum mention, the Premier hinted that he does not support the notion that the BVI should become independent: “What we need right now is economic independence. What that means is that we have to do all that we can do to be able to recover the economy of this country so that we can continue to provide for the people who live in this country in a manner in which they were being provided before and even better.”

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