The Order in Council in reserve has been likened by many to the UK holding a gun to VI’s head, which they argue is not representative of a modern partnership, but reeks of colonialism and even racism.
In a statement to Members to the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly: Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonisation) in New York City on October 6, 2022, Special Envoy of the Premier Mr E. Benito Wheatley said the reserved Order in Council is a form of pressure that can weaken democratic governance and hinder a genuine working relationship between the VI and UK.
According to Mr Wheatley, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) and his delegation will travel to London early next month to attend Ministerial talks between UK Ministers and British Overseas Territories Political Leaders.
He said, among other things, the VI delegation will encourage the UK Government to reconsider their current position on maintaining an Order in Council in reserve that allows the Governor to impose direct rule over the territory at his discretion.
“This form of pressure can weaken democratic governance and is an obstacle to building a new genuine modern partnership between the UK and BVI that is based on trust and supports the aspirations of the people of the Territory.”
Mr Wheatley also told the UN there should also be sensitivity about the feelings of the Commonwealth Caribbean on this issue in terms of the colonial past.
Both CARICOM and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have also condemned the threat of direct rule by the United Kingdom on the Virgin Islands.
“A new modern partnership can be established if both sides act in good faith,” Mr Wheatley argued.
Mr Wheatley also briefed the UN on progress of reform committed to by the VI, coming out of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) and the recent report issued by Governor John J. Rankin, CMG.
He told the UN substantial progress has been made over the course of the last three months through the hard work and dedication of all parties concerned; however, some deadlines have slipped as Government has ramped up its operations and undertaken public consultations, but reform is going in the right direction.
Mr Wheatley said Premier Dr the Hon Wheatley and his Ministerial team have since discussed with the Governor the key issues raised in his report.
“After a thorough discussion, Premier Wheatley is of the view that several of the concerns are a genuine misunderstanding of the situation in some areas. Unfortunately, there was not an opportunity to thoroughly review and discuss the report before its publication, which would have clarified and cleared up some of the misunderstandings.”
Mr Wheatley related to the UN that what is important is that reform in the Virgin Islands is going in the right direction and the Territorial Government is committed to implementing the agreed framework of reforms.