UK minister: Brexit does not change relationship with Cayman

James Duddridge
James Duddridge

The results of last month’s ‘Brexit’ vote in the United Kingdom will not alter the territorial relationship between Britain and Cayman, overseas territories Minister James Duddridge said this week.

Mr. Duddridge spoke with Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin on June 29, six days after the historic referendum in which 52 percent of U.K. voters chose to separate from the European Union. He sent a letter to the premier on Tuesday confirming the U.K.’s position.

“The outcome of the referendum does not change the constitutional relationship between the U.K. and the territories, nor does it in any way reduce the U.K.’s commitment to the overseas territories,” Mr. Duddridge wrote, adding that the U.K. would have to “reframe” its relationship with the EU.

The Brexit vote was also an opportunity to “recalibrate the valuable relationships we enjoy with our traditional partners, including territory governments and countries in the Commonwealth,” the minister wrote.

Mr. Duddridge said the process to exit the EU would not be easy, but stated that they take place against a “fundamentally strong” U.K. economy.

“The Bank of England will not hesitate to take additional measures should they be required,” he wrote.

Cayman’s London office representatives also met with U.K. foreign office leaders on June 30 to discuss the aftermath of the split. After the meeting, London office director Eric Bush said there were “no big surprises.”

The leadership question in Britain has still not been resolved following Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to step down. At this stage, Mr. Bush said, there is not much more Cayman Islands representatives can glean from Britain on Brexit’s aftermath.

“We need to understand what the legal structure is going to look like,” Mr. Bush said last week. “For example, right now we’re tied into the European Court of Human Rights … is that going to change?”

In most cases, Cayman’s highest court of appeal is the Privy Council in the U.K. However, for certain human rights issues a further appeal may be heard by the European Court of Human Rights. U.K. officials are unable to answer the overseas territory’s questions about the application of that court and its rulings presently, Mr. Bush said.

Issues regarding free movement, which are a key point in the negotiations between the U.K. and EU leaders now, could also end up affecting Caymanians. “Will we require visas to go to France,” Mr. Bush said. “Free trade may be an area where there are concerns as well.”

There are other matters such as the implementation of EU-style data protection legislation, which Cayman has sought to adopt in order to allow its financial services industry easier access to European markets.

The Legislative Assembly is due to consider the Data Protection Bill when it meets again in September.