This is despite the UK parliament’s Order in Council that remains in place for the BVI, which could see the suspension of the territory’s constitution in the event it were to default on agreed reforms coming out of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) earlier this year.
Effectively, an Order in Council is a forceful command made in the name of His Majesty the King. Failure to comply with that command can result in the UK exerting diplomatic pressure on the BVI.
Opposition Leader Julian Fraser recently said it was an insult that the territory was proceeding with the constitutional review under those circumstances, while Ninth District Representative Vincent Wheatley suggested that the BVI was being asked to make those reforms in the absence of good faith.
But Dr Wheatley told reporters at a recent press conference that he would continue to implement the much needed reforms, acting as if the Order in Council was not actually in place.
“I made it clear, Order in Council or not, I’m going to try to go through the process in the correct way,” the Premier said. “I believe that the voice of the people has to be heard in the process.”
Premier Wheatley said if the United Kingdom government still wants to suspend the constitution after the people have spoken, this would be something that unjust.
“It’s not something that I certainly would go along with or tolerate,” the Premier added.
“So the Order in Council is there but I’m almost operating as though it’s not there because I don’t want anybody to get the view or the opinion that I’m being forced to do anything,” Dr Wheatley said.
According to the Premier, the reform process was being done in best interest of the people of the BVI.
“We’re going through a reform process that I believe that we have to go through,” the Premier stated. “Things were not happening as they should have before — not to say that nothing good happened in the Virgin Islands before, of course we had many successes – but I think all of us would be able to admit that there were some areas happening before that needs to be reformed.”
“So we’re going through this process of reform and of course I’m going through the process based on what I believe to be it right,” he added. “The democratic process where you consult with people, you get their views, their opinions, etcetera, and then you come out with the result.”