Overseas Territories Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith has suggested that the United Kingdom is not minded to lift the Order in Council over the BVI until governance reforms in the territory are further advanced.
He gave that indication in a statement issued through the Office of the Governor Friday afternoon. It follows talks held with Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley and his government about removing the Order which paves the way for the UK, at any time, to suspend the BVI’s constitution and fully govern the territory for at least two years.
Speaking on the discussions held on the matter, Lord Goldsmith said: “The Premier made clear his strength of feeling about the Order in Council and we, too, want to see these reforms seen through, such that the Order can be lifted.”
“I assure you I will continue to support the British Virgin Islands both in the next few months and after the general election in taking these reforms forward, so that we can realise the Premier’s vision of the BVI as a beacon of democracy,” the UK minister added.
He also noted that he was struck by “the strength of the commitment” he’s heard from the Premier and his Cabinet to promoting good governance and carrying out the reforms in line with the Commission of Inquiry
“I know of course that some of that work isn’t easy and that there is much still to do,” Lord Goldsmith said.
In the meantime, the Overseas Territories Minister said he enjoyed being in the territory and meeting with elected representatives, officials and community members from across the territory.
The minister traversed the main island of Tortola and has even travelled to the far-flung sister island of Anegada during his three-day visit.
“The beauty of these islands and the natural riches you have here are nothing short of amazing. I’m honoured to be the first UK Minister to visit Anegada in a very long time. I may even be the first ever,” he said.