Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley opted for the proverbial rose-tinted glasses as he assessed yesterday’s sitting of the House of Assembly (HOA), calling the abnormal legislative gathering an historic event.
The unprecedented recall of the House, mere days before the general elections, summoned lawmakers to validate the immigration status of some 688 Belongers whose legitimacy, according to Governor John Rankin
, may likely have been called into question; raising doubts over the validity of the results of next week’s polls.
But even as the occasion was met with some derision by other lawmakers — several of whom pounced on the opportunity to score political points against the Premier’s incumbent Virgin Islands Party (VIP) — Dr Wheatley chose to celebrate the moment.
“This was of course history,” Premier Wheatley said. “I don’t think there’s anything for the people of the Virgin Islands
to be ashamed about.”
He continued: “When you have challenges, you seek to address challenges, and that takes courage. It was indeed a historic sitting and persons in the room can say that of course, they were a part of that and there will be some institutional memory there.”
He further pointed out that the United Kingdom’s parliament was recalled some 34 times and suggested the occasion should not be seen as anything strange for those in attendance.
In the end, legislators passed the Immigration and Passport (Validation) Bill, 2023, unopposed, with all eight members present at the time securing the place of those nearly 700 persons that had been jeopardised as a result of the oversight.
Premier Wheatley expressed gratitude to the various actors that played a role in bringing the Bill to the House, including the Speaker, HOA members, and the Attorney General’s Chambers, among others.
The Premier described the sitting as a crucial step in protecting the BVI’s democracy and for ensuring that there are free and fair elections.