Despite international and regional bodies condemning the imperialistic Order in Council to suspend the Virgin Islands constitution and impose direct rule, the Unity Government has so far been unsuccessful in getting the United Kingdom (UK) Government to remove the Order.
Virgin Islanders had waited with bated breath to hear what the recent visit by UK Overseas Territories Minister Frank Zacharias Robin Goldsmith would reveal regarding the Order in Council, since Premier Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) had said the issue would be up for discussion.
Lord Goldsmith visited the Territory from January 31 to February 2, 2023, according to Government, to familiarise himself with the Virgin Islands and to have bilateral meetings with Government.
The arrival of Lord Goldsmith was kept top secret from the local media and public until there was public backlash.
The Minister said; however, he was aware of the Premier’s feelings surrounding the Order in Council and that of the people.
"We too want to see these reforms seen through, such that the Order can be lifted."
Lord Goldsmith, centre, embarking on one of his trips around the Virgin Islands during his recent visit.
‘Implementation of reforms should go further’
Premier Wheatley; however, said Lord Goldsmith wanted to see further progress before the Order can be lifted.
“In the area of reform, Madam Speaker, the Minister acknowledged the progress that has been made over the past nine months and the firm commitment of the Cabinet and wider Government to continue building the Virgin Islands
into a model democracy. However, advised that implementation of reforms should go further before the lifting of the Order in Council can proceed.
“Toward this end, he committed to additional UK technical assistance to support reform efforts,” Dr Wheatley said in a statement at the Third Sitting of the Fifth Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) at the Save the Seed Centre, in Duffs Bottom, Tortola on February 10, 2023.
According to Dr Wheatley, the Minister's visit marked the culmination of the efforts of this administration to restore stability to the Virgin Islands
relationship with the UK that has created more favourable conditions in which to discuss difficult issues such as the Order in Council, while engaging on how to build a new modern partnership that supports the Territory's aspirations for greater self-determination.