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International 14 Feb, 2020 Follow News


By Michael Jarvis, UK Correspondent


Efforts are being stepped up in some segments of the United Kingdom’s political establishment to give the Overseas Territories(OTs) a direct voice in the British parliament.

Proposed legislation to this effect could be tabled shortly.

Anthony Webber, former member of the parliament of the UK Crown Dependency Guernsey, has reported that he is working on a set of proposals which would involve the creation of nine Parliamentary constituencies for the OTs.

No further details were disclosed.

Mr Webber, a member of the Friends of the British Overseas Territories (FOTBOT), told the UK's Express newspaper: “The UK is the only country in the world which does not provide parliamentary representation for its dependent territories."

He said it was a "dereliction of duty" on the part of the UK parliament for failing to address the situation up until now.

The idea now seems to be gaining some traction amongst some other MPs, including Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, who has long championed issues on behalf of the OTs, and his colleague John Penrose.

As recently reported by Caymanian Times, Mr Penrose himself has said that the OTs “should be at least be offered the chance to have an equivalent kind of devolution settlement that has already been agreed and negotiated with Scotland, with Wales and Northern Ireland."

He envisages that the OTs would then become “equal elements” of the UK with the “same status” as Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, sending MPs to the Westminster parliament, constitutionally stable, properly integrated, modern status for these overseas territories.

Mr Penrose had said that such a move would show that the UK is “committed to being a global nation post-Brexit”, and he rejects any suggestion that the move would be a return to Britain’s imperialist past.

Mr Rosindell, who chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories in the last parliament, has been pressing for Gibraltar to be granted a UK parliamentary seat as a priority in the wake of Brexit - the UK's departure from the European Union(EU) which took effect at the end of January.

Critical to this is the UK’s longstanding border dispute with Spain over Gibraltar.

With the UK and EU about to commence trade talks, the Gibraltar issue could prove thorny with Spain already suggesting that the territory should be excluded from any eventual trade deal.

Gibraltar also had direct representation in the EU parliament, shared with another UK constituency.

This renewed push for the OTs to be assigned seats in the British parliament is yet to get official reaction from the other OTs.

In a report titled ‘Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship’ published last year following an inquiry, touched on the subject.

The inquiry conducted by the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee(FAC) had noted that “the elected leaders and representatives of the OTs that appeared before us had mixed views on sending MPs to Parliament.”

With the dramatic political shift which has taken in the UK in due Brexit and its implications for the OTs, it’s left to be seen how this issue plays out.

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