“They sky is falling!” proclaimed fictional children’s character, Chicken Little after an acorn dropped from a tree and hit her on the head. The naïve youngster thought in all reality that she had witnessed a sign of the end of times.
So too did many across the British Overseas Territories when the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee published its report “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories” earlier this year. The contents of the report, on face value, did give reason to be concerned.
If its recommendations were taken on board, there would have been significant changes for the OTs, including providing pathways for UK citizens to run for elected office, same sex marriage and the imposition of public registers of beneficial ownership.
There were some who acknowledged that the report released that its contents were mainly recommendations from a group that had no locus standi to impact or impose UK government policy. This week, the government in London rejected the contents of the report.
The decision was heralded by Premier Alden Mclaughlin as “a clear-headed restatement of the fundamental principle of self-government that underpins the relationship between Cayman and the UK.”
The sky may not be falling, however, there are clouds of uncertainty looming on the horizon. Many of the areas raised in the report are still in play, so to speak. There remains a court decision to be handed down on same sex marriage in the Cayman Islands, and the islands’ lifeblood remains under threat with the 2023 deadline for public registers of beneficial ownership to be put in place. Both of those were put on the table here aside from the FAC enquiry that led to its report.
While many ranted and raved, even threatening independence, it seems (at least for the time being) that the report will sit on a shelve somewhere in the halls of Westminster to gather dust.
Nonetheless, a keen eye should be kept on any threats to Cayman and the OTs that may come out of this but life goes on and energies should be focused on protecting Cayman’s place as a top-tier financial centre and all-in-all a great place to live built up on the norms and values of many generations of Caymanians.