Premier leads delegation to London for constitutional talks

St. Stephens tower of the Houses of Parliament in central London is seen with its lights switched off during Earth Hour 2009. - Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis.

Premier Alden McLaughlin and a government delegation will leave Cayman Friday to attend a series of meetings in London that will involve discussions on constitutional issues.

The premier, along with Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers and Attorney General Sam Bulgin, will attend meetings of the Political Council of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association and the Joint Ministerial Council.

Following those meeting, the delegation will be joined by Commerce Minister Joseph Hew, Leader of the Opposition Ezzard Miller and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Alva Suckoo, along with Cayman’s constitutional adviser in London, Sir Jeffrey Jowell, QC. Two days of meetings will be held with U.K. government officials on constitutional reform.

Mr. McLaughlin, repeating a statement he made in the Legislative Assembly last week, said Cayman was striving to have aspects of its 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.”

He reiterated that the Cayman Islands aimed to “resist constitutional overreach” by the British government and parliament.

The push for constitutional reform follows a May decision of the U.K. parliament to seek to force Cayman and other overseas territories to introduce public beneficial ownership registries.

Environment discussions

The series of meetings will begin Monday, Dec. 3, with the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association Environmental Workshop, which Premier McLaughlin will host. The workshop will include leaders in environments across the overseas territories, non-government organizations and associations from the U.K., as well as Nadia Hardie, executive director of the Cayman Islands National Trust.

“UKOTA’s focus and developments in the areas of the environment and climate change includes Overseas Territory representation for the first time at the COP24 Global Environment meetings, a significant milestone in the global climate change conversation,” according to the press release.

The Political Council meetings will incorporate an in-depth review of the activity of UKOTA throughout the year, which includes working with the U.K. government on items such as diaspora consular issues, citizenship and passport issues, environment and climate change, European Union engagement and overseas territories’ student engagement.

“The annual Joint Ministerial Council meeting will involve two days of intensive meetings with Her Majesty’s Government reviewing and discussing the Overseas Territories relationship with the U.K., including environment, Brexit, trade and economy, health and education, constitutional relationships with the U.K. and disaster management,” the release stated.

U.K. government ministers expected to attend the Joint Ministerial Council meetings include Minister of State for the Overseas Territories Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for International Development Lord Bates; Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington, and Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride.

Other parliamentary engagements during the visit include meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Cayman Islands, including the group’s chairman Sir Graham Brady MP, Lord Naseby and Andrew Rosindell MP.

Premier McLaughlin will also attend the Queen’s Diplomatic Reception, the main diplomatic reception of the year, where members of the Royal Family will join more than 1,500 people from around 130 countries, including members of the British government, prime ministers, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, and other public figures.

While in London, Mr. McLaughlin will also host a dinner with friends and associates and hold a reception for Cayman students in the U.K.

Also traveling with the premier will be Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose, Senior Political Advisor to the Premier Roy Tatum, Policy Coordinator within the Cabinet Office Jason Webster, and PA to the Premier Jana Pouchie-Bush.

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