Premier meets UK government officials

Premier Alden McLaughlin says he warned senior UK government about meddling in Cayman affairs during meetings he held in London this week.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, fifth from left, meets MPs, from left, Martin Vickers, Keith Taylor; Pauline Latham; Jeremy Lefroy; Ian Paisley Jr., and Sheryll Murray.

The premier, along with Chief Officer Eric Bush of the Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs, and Roy Tatum, Head of the Office of the Premier, met separately on Wednesday with Ben Wallace, the UK’s Minister of State for the Home Office, and Ben Merrick, Director of the Overseas Territories Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. McLaughlin also sponsored later on Wednesday a Cayman Islands All Party Parliamentary Group dinner, with cross-party attendance, at the House of Lords.

In a press release from the Office of the Premier, McLaughlin that at the dinner, he was able to engage with a number of important figures in Parliament and the House of Lords “to further our education campaign about the Cayman Islands within Westminster”.

“Continued high level engagement with MPs and Peers is essential for the Cayman Islands to maintain a presence and understanding within the Houses of Commons and Lords,” he said, adding, “My message also included a note of warning of the consequences of a UK Parliament; 4,500 miles from the Cayman Islands interfering in local matters that are not only devolved, but in circumstances where they have no real understanding of local people and local affairs.”

The meetings with Wallace and Merrick focussed on the ongoing talks on constitutional reform for the Cayman Islands and other issues.

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According to the press release, with the Brexit date pushed back to October, “the UK and the Cayman Islands governments are both keen to conclude the constitutional reform discussions, and to have the proposed changes debated in the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly later this year”.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, left, and Lord Northbrook

The UK government’s upcoming response to the recently published Foreign Affairs Committee report on the relationship with the Overseas Territories was also discussed, along with matters relating to the European Union blacklisting process and public registers of beneficial ownership, the release stated.

The Cayman delegation also met on Wednesday with Sir Jeffery Jowell, QC, who is advising the Cayman Islands Government on constitutional reform and the appeal of the Chief Justice’s judgment that legalised same-sex marriages in the Cayman Islands.

The host of the Cayman Islands All Party Parliamentary Group dinner, with cross-party attendance, was group member Lord Northbrook, a long-time supporter of the Cayman Islands.

“The Premier updated attendees on Cayman’s economy and how well the country is doing. But he also spoke frankly on matters of concern regarding what many in the Overseas Territories view as a worrying trend by some UK parliamentarians to intervene in the affairs of the territories in matters that are the devolved responsibility of the elected governments of the territories,” according to the release.

McLaughlin referred to the purported imposition of public registers of beneficial ownership by the UK Parliament as well as the approach taken by the Foreign Affairs Committee in its recent report on the Territories, which he described as “alarming”. He said that this type of unwarranted intervention, should it continue, will only serve to drive a wedge between the people of the territories and the United Kingdom and, in the end, will serve neither the interests of the UK nor the territories well.

The premier and the Cayman delegation travelled to Monaco on Thursday for meetings with key yacht brokers and industry leaders. The Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands is hosting those meetings to advance the work of the new Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs, the premier’s office stated.

On Sunday, McLaughlin is scheduled to participate in an annual charity bicycle ride of more than 87 miles to benefit the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation. The Cayman Islands Government has partly sponsored the riding kit for the event and riding jerseys prominently display the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms.

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