Miller says Cayman not ready for independence

Ezzard Miller

Opposition leader Ezzard Miller says he shares Premier Alden McLaughlin’s concerns about potential legislation that would grant British citizens the right to vote and hold elected office in its overseas territories, including the Cayman Islands. But Mr. Miller he does not think the threat of leaving British protection is a good strategy.

Also included in the proposed legislation would be forced recognition of same-sex marriage. Mr. McLaughlin said in recent days that if such regulations were implemented, the Cayman Islands should pursue independence as a country.

The initiatives are contained in a report issued by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee titled “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories: Resetting the relationship.” The report was published Feb. 21.

“I join the Premier in his concerns,” Mr. Miller said in a statement issued Wednesday, “but where our views diverge is with respect to the notion that we should sit tight and hope that the recommendations go nowhere, while at the same time hold independence as a sort of sword of Damocles in the event the proposals do materialize as local law.”

He said he believes Cayman should take a more active approach.

“When we hear a train whistle, we don’t need to wait to see the train before we take preemptive action,” he said. “We must take appropriate formal action now, debate the report in the Cayman Islands Legislature and report our concerns to the UK through appropriate channels.”

The committee is expected to send its recommendations to the House of Commons where they could eventually be incorporated into legislation. Mr. Ezzard said Cayman should do what it can to derail the ideas before that stage.

Threatening independence, he said, is a bad idea at this point because he does not believe Cayman is ready yet for that step. Laying the groundwork for making the islands ready, however, is worthwhile, he added.

“We must begin from now to prepare for greater internal management of our own affairs,” he said. Such steps would mean “improving our standards of governance.”

It would also require investing in people and institutions that would help support self governance, he said.