Cayman’s relationship with UK under spotlight

Cabinet is inviting the public to weigh in with opinions on the relationship the Cayman Islands has with the United Kingdom.

The Cabinet Office announced Friday it had set up a website to invite public comment on Cayman’s relationship as a British Overseas Territory with the UK, as part of an ongoing public consultation exercise.

The United Kingdom is reviewing its relationship with its overseas territories and aims to release a white paper next year outlining a new strategy in dealing with them. It released an earlier white paper on the subject in 1999.

“I urge every member of the public to take this opportunity the UK has provided and speak up. Do visit the webpage and learn for yourselves what the UK is proposing with the new White Paper 2012. It will define the relationship with each of the overseas territories since one size cannot fit all,” said Premier McKeeva Bush.

Mr. Bush will deliver the input received from the public as part of a position paper he will present at the Overseas Territories Consultative Council meeting in London in late November.

The night before the announcement was made, Premier Bush told members of the Constitution Commission at a public meeting in West Bay that independence for Cayman was an “inevitable step” and urged the commission to make educating the public about the pros and cons of independence a priority in its work.

He cautioned he was not calling for independence, but 
instead wanted the commission to fulfil its role to let people know the consequences of an independent Cayman.

The Constitutional Commission has drawn up a research paper on people-initiated referendums and is also inviting public comment on the subject.

Commission member Julene Banks said Cayman was the only a British Overseas Territory with a constitution allowing a referendum to be initiated by the people on matters of national importance. The only mandatory referendum mentioned in the constitution is one concerning independence for the Cayman Islands, a referendum that could be brought by elected members of government.

Prior to the new constitution being implemented in 2009, only the majority of elected members of government could initiate a referendum.

Ms Banks said the Constitutional Commission was in the process of drawing up a paper on self-determination options. Mr. Bush said the original intent in setting up a Constitutional Commission was it would “not [be] in the hands of the governor, but in the hands of the elected officials, that could and would be able to push and educate and probably agitate for the time when we would need to get closer to having an independent Cayman Islands”.

He asked commission members at the meeting, Ms Banks and Wil Pineau, “to pay closer attention to the education, the pros and the cons of an independent Cayman Islands, whether it is 15 or 20 or 30 years from now. At least, our children needs to know what it entails and … I do believe they are not going to be as tolerant as we have been to the administering powers.”

He said the UK had already stated if Cayman wanted to become independent, it would allow it. He said the “goal posts have shifted” and perhaps there were now more safeguards as, in the past, the arrangement was that if a party won an election on the platform of independence, the UK government would allow independence, but now, under the new constitution, a referendum was needed.

Mr. Pineau responded that one of the Constitutional Commission’s next projects would be to determine “if people supported any of the options for advancement [and] what would it really mean in terms of economic consequences, diplomatic consequences, political consequences, the governance structure, the citizenship, the relationship with the developed countries beyond the United Kingdom, the European Union and our trading partners”.

“We want to educate people to ensure that whatever step the public decides to take, they have all the information in front of them so that when that vote is taken, people understand what they are getting into,” he said.

The Cabinet Office website outlines a series of six questions for which the UK is seeking responses, which members of the public can respond to online at


  1. And that is where Caymanians can ascertain a UK passport for themselves if they don’t want to jump on the Cayman-for-Independence train.

    Yes, I agree, Independence would be unvoidable down the road. The UK adminitrative power, is still making some stupid blunders in governing the Overseas Territories, spying on them, setting up a dictatorship over TCI, and this lingering colonial mentality that we are down here as mere natives, and they are the lords up there. So FO was never a perfect and moral adminitration.

    Now, as a born and raised Caymanian, my gravest concerns is not Independence itself, but HOW we go towards Independence with the weak Constitution we have in terms of peoples democracy and checks and balances. The transitional phase of Independence is a risky one where special interest like vultures would want to get their hands on the money pie – referring to countries that have went into Independence from the UK and have becamw bankrupt. Also, another concern is that the UK is our only watchdog so to speak against political corruption here, and some of our local politicians show the traits of dictatorship as well… that if they ever get absolute power over the people, God help us!

    The question is – WHAT STATE OF INDEPENDENCE DO WE WANT TO BE IN??? Do we want a two party system that is corrupt and has no watchdog? Do we want to remain under a Constitution that represent developers allied with politicians, and not the people? Or, be under a document that only provide for referendums – and no more direct democracy for the people and by the people? Do we want Independence with no protectorate or nation to defend us?

    I strongly believe that we shouldn’t go Independent. To me, the risk of this financial industry surviving, is too high. At the same time, I strongly believe that our mother country, is not a good mother, but look out for their own power and interest only and not the peoples interest.

    Hence, I feel, it is not Independence that Cayman need – But ANNEXATION with another soveriegn country with a good economic record, military strength, and better respect for peoples rights than what the UK is doing. A mother country that has more brawn and teeth for ensuring direct democratic rights for islanders.


  2. @ Lorry – because Cayman is small and can easily lose its identity. The UK is larger than Cayman. There you go!

    @ B.T. – I would say annex to Canada sounds good. But definitely, not to the tax-you-to-the-bone U.S. or back to Jamaica.

  3. the UK brings a stamp of legitemacy to the banking industry and helps keep a check and balance system on the Caymnan politicians. Like all politicians, the more eyes watching them the safer the public remains.The loss of the UK would open up more avenues for currupt practices and force a possible run on the banks.



  5. I think it strange that the premier is asking for our input on Independence. He’s under fire and being investigated. We would be morons to follow his lead in spending time on input about Independence. something we should not be caught Dead or alive considering

    He just wants more and total power so he can become like some of our neighbors.

    He need to fix the CUC high duty that government is collecting from CUC that we pay for Yes 600 per year it cost each customer!

  6. 1. The Finance Industry is heavily reliant on its political and economic stability. To become independent from the UK would weaken this, at a time when Cayman cannot afford to lose business to its international competitors.

    2. The ability to appeal to the UK privvy council for legal judgements is a major attraction to financial services clients.

    3. There should be a simple case of ‘best person for the job’ if we’re interested in the long term prosperity of Cayman. Local residents will still have the competitive advantage that they don’t incur work permit fees to the employer.

    The truly distressing thing about Cayman is the level of discrimination towards expats and foreigners. Something that wouldn’t be tolerated elsewhere. (Just think, would you like your children when educated and working in the US, Canada or the UK to be prejudiced and told that they are 2nd class citizens?!)

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