EDITORIAL – Will England’s ‘baritone barrister’ replace Theresa May?

Geoffrey Cox

Geoffrey Cox, the U.K.’s baritone barrister, is demonstrating he can perform on multiple stages with equal aplomb. For years, Mr. Cox has been mesmerizing judges and jurors with his theatrical courtroom presentations, and since 2005, he has been representing his home district of West Devon and Torridge as a member of Parliament.

Mr. Cox, a Queen’s Counsel (QC), is well-known in the Cayman Islands. He, along with local attorney Michael Alberga, represented House Speaker McKeeva Bush in his credit card trial in 2014 (final score, 11-zip, in favor of the defense).

Mr. Cox recently ignited his fellow conservatives with a speech in which he spoke passionately about the “opportunity” facing Great Britain as it negotiates its way toward Brexit. The BBC echoed other breathless news reports with this headline: “Geoffrey Cox wows Tories with warm-up act for PM.”

As Prime Minister Theresa May wobbles her way through the negotiations for a departure from the European Union, we in the Cayman Islands should be paying close attention to Mr. Cox’s career path in his home country.

On its face, he is everything that Ms. May is not – confident to the point of cockiness, brilliant in his scholarship, and, perhaps most important, theatrical and thunderous in his delivery.

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In the land that gave us Shakespeare, Mr. Cox could play any number of the Bard’s roles, from Sir John Falstaff to Julius Caesar. He would be miscast, however, as the indecisive Hamlet, tortured by an inability to make up his own mind. Mr. Cox shows little indication of having even a modicum of such diffidence or indecision.

And that’s what makes him such an attractive foil to Ms. May (aka “The Dancing Queen,” a reference to ABBA’s background music to which she shimmied on stage recently to deliver her keynote address to the party faithful. Her self-deprecatory gesture followed her painful-to-watch attempt at “dancing with the natives” during her recent tour of Africa. Ouch.)

Over the weekend, we reached out to House Speaker Bush, who is in London, for some personal insight into Mr. Cox. His “report card” was all “A’s,” giving Mr. Cox the highest grades as a political representative – he goes out in his van to hold meetings (thousands over the years) with his constituents. Mr. Bush also told us that Mr. Cox is a devoted husband (to his wife Jeanie) and father (to their three children – a daughter Charlotte and two sons, James and Jonathan).

Although Mr. Cox is the richest man in Parliament (measured by annual income), he also may be the cheapest. His expense account has included reimbursement claims for a carton of milk (49 pence) and 95 pounds for a refrigerator (presumably to house the milk).

An inquiry ensued into this and other expense matters, but the lead investigator, a gentleman by the name of Sir Thomas Legge, gave him a clean bill of health.

Whether Mr. Cox replaces Ms. May in residence at 10 Downing Street or continues to serve in her cabinet as Attorney General, we would hope he would remain forceful in advocating for the interests of the Cayman Islands. Recently, he said this:

“In 2009, we gave the people of the Cayman Islands a solemn pledge in this House. We said, ‘We will not legislate for you in these areas of public responsibility without your consent.’ By this measure today [endorsing public ownership registers for the territories] we are breaking that promise to them, and it is beneath the dignity of this Parliament to do away with that promise and that pledge of good faith.”

Thank you, Mr. Cox.

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