Premier in London to discuss constitutional reform issues

Premier Alden McLaughlin
Premier Alden McLaughlin

Premier Alden McLaughlin is in London this week to take part in meetings with British officials about constitutional reform and public beneficial ownership registers.

Mr. McLaughlin left for the U.K. Friday with a delegation that included Financial Services and Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers. On Monday, he and Ms. Rivers, along with other members of the delegation, met with Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the U.N. at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Several meetings have been scheduled throughout the week.

On Tuesday, Mr. McLaughlin will chair a meeting with fellow British Overseas Territory leaders from Anguilla, Bermuda, BVI, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos to discuss hurricane preparation, response and mitigation, according to a press release from the Cayman Islands government. This meeting follows on from discussions that took place in November 2017 in Miami. Leaders will also discuss relevant issues regarding constitutional reform in light of the House of Commons vote on public registers in May.

The group will also discuss disaster management. “We will look at local disaster preparedness as well as regional support from our Caribbean neighbours, including the Dutch and French territories, as well as improved support from the U.K., should disaster strike,” the premier is quoted as saying in the release.

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On Wednesday, Mr. McLaughlin will join other overseas territories heads of government at Church House in Westminster for their annual pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting. The Pre-JMC is a precursor to the full Joint Ministerial Council meeting which will be held in London in November.

“The pre-JMC allows the OT leaders to agree their key agenda items for discussion with the U.K. in November. There will also be a report provided by the U.K. Overseas Territories Association on their work over the past year,” according to the press release.

Discussions will also include talks on climate change, the U.K.’s “blue belt” initiative that promotes Marine Conservation Zones in the United Kingdom and overseas territories, and hurricane preparedness.

On Thursday, the premier and the Cayman Islands delegation will attend the annual meeting between overseas territories leaders, U.K. ministers and officials on the Brexit negotiations with the European Union. This special JMC meeting dealing with EU negotiations is an opportunity for the U.K. and overseas territories leaders to discuss matters such as how decisions made will affect trade and the economy, citizens’ rights, border arrangements and the legislative provisions for an exit from the European Union, according to the release.

Before the discussions around Brexit, the delegates will examine possible constitutional reform within the territories. The de-facto Deputy Prime Minister David Lidington will lead the discussions, which will also include disaster management.

“We meet each year ahead of the Joint Ministerial Council to discuss the many areas in which we can work together,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “This year, top of the agenda is our constitutional relationship with the U.K., which I lobbied to get added to the agenda following the recent vote in the House of Lords regarding the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering bill.”

The Cayman delegation includes Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose, Chief Officer for the Ministry of Financial Services and Home Affairs Dax Basdeo, Senior Political Advisor Roy Tatum, Sherpa Jason Webster and Personal Assistant to the Premier Jana Bush. The delegation returns to Cayman on Friday, June 15.

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