Cayman, other territories to be briefed on Brexit

The British and European flags fly outside Europe House, the European Parliament's British offices, in central London. - Photo: AP

Representatives of British Overseas Territories were due to meet with U.K. foreign office representatives Thursday amid the fallout from the Brexit vote to discuss how the territories may be affected by upcoming changes.

The meeting, to be held in London, will be attended by Cayman’s new London office director Eric Bush via conference call. Mr. Bush will leave Cayman for his post at the end of the week. The U.K. will be represented by Peter Hayes, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s director for the British Overseas Territories.

“We have a lot of questions,” Mr. Bush said. “I’m not sure they’ll be able to answer them at this point.”

Mr. Bush said Cayman has many of the same political questions about Britain’s break from the European Union that are being asked around the globe. However, there are also some practical considerations regarding the availability of EU-directed funding assistance available to the overseas territories.

For instance, Mr. Bush said, there are certain funding instruments, such as the EU’s development fund that Cayman would like to participate in. “Particularly EDF [European Development Fund] funding that is applicable until 2020 that we can apply for,” he said. “Does this [Brexit vote] now change that?”

Although it is estimated that Britain’s full separation from the EU will take at least two years, there may be some medium-term changes in the way Cayman’s London office operates.

“How it works now, once a month or twice a month … the [Cayman] representatives from the U.K. travel to Brussels,” Mr. Bush said. In effect, the London office representative also acts as the liaison to the EU, he said.

The core function of the Cayman Islands London Office, to improve and enhance the territory’s relationship with the U.K., will not be affected by Brexit, Mr. Bush said. However, it may change how Cayman handles its relationship with the European Union.

Officially, Britain handles all such international diplomatic relationships on behalf of its overseas territories, but Mr. Bush said Cayman may decide to operate its own European office in the Belgian capital, if it is practical and economically feasible.

“There’s nothing to stop [us] having a presence, an office [in Brussels],” he said.

The Cayman Islands governor’s office said Thursday’s meeting was solely “to discuss the overseas territories interests in the referendum result.”

Outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. would consult with Gibraltar, the territories and Crown dependencies in advance of the “new negotiation” with the European Union.

There have been serious economic concerns in Britain and the EU since last Thursday’s referendum on leaving the bloc. On Tuesday, the British pound hit a new 31-year record low, but recovered somewhat on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported that shares in Royal Bank of Scotland fell 15 percent and stock markets declined across Europe.

Negotiations were continuing on Wednesday between British and European leaders over precise terms, including immigration and investment regulations, for the U.K. following its separation from the union.

“I’ll have a ringside seat to see how this unfolds,” Mr. Bush said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  1. I think that if I was Mr Bush I would have been in my office in England from Monday and not wait till the weekend to leave . Procrastination can cause a lot of problems . I would also have a team of delegates with me too . This is a very serious matter Mr Bush .