Opposition politicians and government will present a united front in talks with British officials over proposed changes to Cayman’s constitution designed to protect the island’s right to make its own decisions on domestic matters.
Premier Alden McLaughlin will lead a bipartisan delegation in talks at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, scheduled to begin Dec. 7.
The push for reform follows a decision of the U.K. parliament to seek to force Cayman and other overseas territories to introduce public beneficial ownership registries. Mr. McLaughlin has said this was a “constitutional overreach” from the U.K. and has been seeking changes to the islands’ constitution to make it clear that Cayman officials have autonomy on domestic matters.
Ezzard Miller and Al Suckoo, the leader and deputy leader of the official opposition, respectively, will join the talks, along with Home Affairs Minister Tara Rivers, Attorney General Sam Bulgin and government’s constitutional adviser in London Sir Jeffrey Jowell, QC.
Addressing the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, Mr. McLaughlin said, “Our goal, and I believe everyone in this House would agree, is to put the Cayman Islands in the best possible position constitutionally to govern our own affairs, to resist constitutional overreach by the U.K. government and parliament, and to continue to thrive and prosper as a modern, progressive and successful democracy.”
He said politicians were putting differences on local issues aside to do what is best for the country.
“The constitutional safeguards we are striving for are to have aspects of our Constitution clarified to ensure that the Cayman Islands government has autonomous capacity in respect of domestic affairs and that the U.K. parliament will not legislate, directly or indirectly, without consultation or, in matters of domestic autonomy, without the consent of these islands.”
Government is also seeking the removal of the U.K.’s “power of disallowance” over laws passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands.
He emphasized Cayman was not seeking independence from the U.K.
“These proposals are not intended to secure the Cayman Islands’ independence. Nor is it our intention to usurp the U.K.’s proper role in external affairs, or to attain a degree of autonomy beyond the accepted status of the Crown dependencies and, in respect of some constitutional provisions, of overseas territories such as Bermuda and Gibraltar. Instead, we want to ensure that we have autonomous capacity in domestic affairs.”