BOTs praised, UK gov’t grilled over Irma response

| 13/09/2017 | 78 Comments
Cayman News Service

Sir Alan Duncan answers questions in the House of Commons on the UK response after Irma

(CNS): While the Cayman Islands and other British Overseas Territories were praised in the House of Commons Tuesday for the swift aid given to those BOTs impacted by Hurricane Irma, the British government faced criticisms about the speed of their own response as well as questions concerning long-term planning for its territories in the face of climate change and the prospect of future catastrophic hurricanes in the region.

Sir Alan Duncan, Minister for Europe and the Americas, roundly defended Britain’s action in the aftermath of the hurricane, as several MPs claimed that it was inferior to that given by the other governments to their own territories, that they had less in place to help in the aftermath and were slower in evacuating British citizens out of desperate situations.

The Royal Navy ship RFA Mounts Bay, which recently tested its disaster recovery response on Grand Cayman by landing heavy equipment and supplies directly on Governor’s Beach, was in the Caribbean to provide a rapid response to any emergency. However, Stephen Twigg, MP for Liverpool, said it was “unable to land heavy equipment on Anguilla because they could not use the docks or the beach”.

He added, “More broadly, we were less well prepared on the ground than both the French and the Dutch. For example, there was no stored equipment such as water, tents and generators on land, whereas such equipment was stored by those other countries.”

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, said that “the scale of the UK’s response does not in any way meet the size of the disaster that has befallen those people, for whom we have a responsibility”.

“There is real concern about the lack of preparedness by the UK Government in responding to the hurricane,” said Chris Law, MP for Dundee West. “The severity of Hurricane Irma had been predicted and there was time to prepare, but the UK Government did not do so.”

Sir Alan roundly defended the use of the Navy ship, noting that its crew “got the power in the hospital going again and delivered supplies” in Anguilla. They also worked to get the airport operational again before the ship went on to help the British Virgin Islands. The ship’s helicopter was used to drop “a significant amount of water and ​food” on Jost van Dyke island in the BVI “and has done an enormous amount to prioritise the need that we are addressing”.

In addition to the Mounts Bay, HMS Ocean, “the flagship of the Royal Navy”, is to leave the Mediterranean “and steam westwards with all speed”, he told the Commons Tuesday. “HMS Ocean loaded supplies in Gibraltar yesterday and will be active in the Caribbean in about 10 days.”

Addressing observations that other governments already had troops and assets on the ground in the Caribbean ready to help and suggestions that Britain should also have a permanent naval base in one of the BOTs, Sir Alan indicated that this may not be possible because of the different form of governance. For example the French govern their overseas territories directly, whereas BOTs are self-governed, he noted.

“But if they are there, depending on where the hurricane goes, they may not necessarily be in the right place, and some of their assets which they hoped would help may have been destroyed. Our flexible naval deployment is the best way of helping people in response to a hurricane when we know pretty well only at the last minute exactly where the force of the hurricane is going to hit.”

Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, said that “as we talk about the need to help the governments of the overseas territories, and we hear the reassurances from the minister and his colleagues that they are in it for the long term, we have to ask what that means. It cannot mean simply cleaning up the damage that has been done, giving people new homes and new livelihoods, and hoping that this will last for a few years until the next hurricane strikes. That is not fixing things for the long term; it is just patching things up until next time.”

She continued, “With climate change making such hurricanes more intense and more frequent and showing no signs of slowing down, we urgently need a long-term plan for the overseas territories — a plan that is built around resilience and sustainability.”

Sir Alan agreed. “In the face of growing severe weather incidents, it is important to build resilience and proper defences into the infrastructure wherever possible, but the infrastructure in a lot of these overseas territories is very flimsy, very small and very vulnerable,” he said. “Perhaps the silver lining in the cloud is that where so much has been swept away, when things are rebuilt they will be better able to withstand the ferocity of the sort of hurricane that we have seen over the past week.”

Sir Henry Bellingham, a former overseas territories minister, suggested “a comprehensive, five-year reconstruction package”.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley heaped praise on those BOTs that immediately sprung into action to help the islands that were impacted by the hurricane. “Will the minister join me in paying tribute to the British Overseas Territories that have been helping each other to recover from this crisis? For example, later today a relief flight with the premier of the Cayman Islands on it will go from that territory to Anguilla with medical supplies, and it will evacuate Anguillans to the Cayman Islands for support.”

Sir Alan Duncan said that Smith was “absolutely right. Bermuda and the Cayman Islands have been helpful, and the government of Gibraltar, where I was at the weekend, are going to put some very helpful vehicles on to HMS Ocean. The spirit of mutual help from overseas territories and Commonwealth countries—indeed, from all countries—is commendable.”

See the full statement and questions in the House of Commons here

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Category: Caribbean, Politics, UK, World News

Comments (78)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow!!!!!!!




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  2. Anonymous says:

    Not sure why those who are clearly debating my post opted to not reply directly and engage in dialogue.

    Says it all really.

    – Whodatis




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    • Anonymous says:

      Whodat, you’ve been on here long enough to know that a lot of people somehow end up hitting a general reply button when they’re clearly replying to a specific comment. While you do like to attract comment, I don’t this is anything specific to you, just statistically its more likely to happen to you.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Because, unlike L’Oreal, you’re not worth it.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Could it be because you are a complete idiot with no understanding of facts?




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      • Anonymous says:

        He has 20/20 vision of all things, according to him – see below, and we are the fools who don’t treat this King Baby with the respect he demands.




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    • Anonymous says:

      …yet here they all come.

      Ah boy.

      – Who




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  3. Unison says:

    I know just before Ivan hit us, our Governor at the time declared A STATE OF EMERGENCY …

    But guess what was the response in Turks and Cacois Islands?

    The FCO appointed Governor there, declared a state of emergency AFTER THE HURRICANE RIPPED THROUGH THE ISLANDS, and seeing the damage and possible loss of life!

    That’s incredible! You would think these Governors are well trained to follow a protocol when face with such disasters :/




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Those moaning about comparisons to French and Dutch territories need to realise that the difference is part of the effect of the BOTs wanting more and more self-rule which means the BOTs are far less connected economically and strategically to the UK than say a French territory is to France. You want work permits and control over business ownership? Then less infrastructure and economic connection to the motherland is part of the price to be paid.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    With a per capita GDP of $38,500 and companies worth trillions registered there, the BVI could have established a sink fund from modest corporate taxation to meet such contingencies. It is hard to see the fairness in expected English taxpayers to fund operations in places that operate to divert tax revenues away from the UK and other nations for the benefit of the world’s rich.




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    • Anonymous says:

      If you believe that those numbers accurately reflect the BVI (or Cayman, etc.) then I have a bridge to sell you.




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    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t eat money.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The per capita GDP is that high because the British lawyers in the BVI are all being paid of the order of 250,000 (or substantially more) whilst the local people tend to earn closer to the order of 20,000. It averages out at 38K. Now that all the foreign professionals have left, the truth emerges. Your attempts to use statistics to mislead from what I believe you know the true facts to be is below you .




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      • BELONGER says:

        Same $$$ shit here in the Cayman Islands.




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      • Jotnar says:

        Really? Want to compare the starting salaries for administrative staff in either the BVI or Cayman with the UK? Same issue. Earnings are way higher across the board because of the lack of taxes and the high demand for service versus the supply of labour. Either way it doesn’t deal with the OPs original point, which is that its quite difficult for an English politician to explain to his electorate why they are spending millions bailing out territories that don’t pay a penny in tax towards paying for the troops and aid they are supplying when the average wage of the inhabitants in the aid destination – even excluding the high flyers – is way higher than that of the same constituents that elect those politicians. How about you deal with those true facts.




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        • Observer says:

          Because we’re British citizens and what we don’t pay in tax we give up in sovereignty. We are vestiges of the empire, with self-determination and self-government and backstopped by the UK. If the UK finds itself in what looks to its press like a one-sided arrangement that’s by precise design over decades of constitutional evolution and a consequence of trying to own the entire world for centuries. Suck it up and pay.




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        • Anonymous says:

          What, you mean the 80% expat administrative staff?




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      • Anonymous says:

        You might want to Google what GDP is.




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    • Anonymous says:

      are you Dermot from Sky News?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Says the English person enjoying life like they never knew until they moved to the Cayman Islands and benefitted from the same taxation regime they are now criticizing on CNS.




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      • BELONGER says:

        You’ve hit the nail with a sledge hammer so hard and directly on it’s head. Well said 1:39pm !!




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        • Anonymous says:

          Misses the point though. Does not explain why English taxpayers should fund Cayman or any tax haven BOTC when there could be plenty of reserves with domestic taxation.




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        • People's Front of Judea says:

          It was written … At this time a man shall lose his friends hammer.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Hardly. There is a reason pay is at a premium over England – in order to compensate for having to live in an isolated, third-world cutlural vacuum.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Only Caymanians believe that this is paradise, whilst everyone else sees if for what it is: nice place, with several problems like everywhere else, the biggest one being the holier than thou attitude of a certain part of the local population. Especially those that want all the state benefits that comes out of taxes on expats, whilst doing bugger all to earn them and some of those with jobs feeling they don’t have to do anything as they are protected species. Seen the blue iguanas at the botanic park? Fat, lazy, sitting on the paths with no fear. Except they are getting sick now.False life, which is unsustainable.




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        • Anonymous says:

          9;12 pm, part of what you said is true, but on the other hand if you don’t this Island is paradise, please go back home and live in your paradise country, just go and keep your mouth shut, ok, just go, thank you. To the others expats that think this Country is GREAT and a good place to work and live, i say a big WELCOME and thanks.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The definition of compassion is below, I see no mention of GDP comparisons when it comes to helping those in desperate need.

      compassion
      /kəmˈpaʃ(ə)n/
      noun
      noun: compassion; plural noun: compassions
      sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Like the compassion tax havens show to countries where the hungry and poor suffer because of lost taxes and corruption?




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  6. Caymanian says:

    So much talk and so little action. The first few weeks after a strike are critical and this is where they are grossly lacking. People need food, shelter, clothing and insurance and banks moving to rebuild asap. Sending a ship that takes 10 days to get there a week after an incident is SLOOOOOOW….Too damn slow.

    They need these ships in the Caribbean region from the first sight of a storm during hurricane season. Then it’s about positioning ships in safe zones. If storm in middle of Caribbean basin then move ships to BVI. If high and going across top of Caribbean then Cayman. It’s really not that hard. Ship should be moving in immediately after storm pulls out. First it lands supplies then it helps with evacuations with staff moving to help firm up medical and a communications structure and then assisting local police with security.

    I am not saying a lot of this is not in place already but here are my thoughts…We need to have teams headed up by ministers overseeing private enterprise functions…

    Team 1 – Communications and Utilities – Light, Water and Telecoms – Light needs to have poles in waiting for these events and a plan in place with stakeholders to get on the ground and fast. People need know well before season even starts what will be landing on the ground for assistance not once it hits. Special planes for crews need know they are in play when hurricane season starts. CAL here in Cayman and TCI planes and BVI planes….We need boots on the ground the 1st second then can get there.

    Team 2 – Rebuilding – This includes Banks, Insurance Companies and Construction companies. These all need be prepared to move and quickly. Additional adjusters need to come in immediately to aid the insurance companies evaluations, Banks need have funding prepared for these events so that there is no money shortage or anything of this nature. Contractors/Construction companies need to prepare also. We could also have building material suppliers ready also. They need from start of hurricane season talk to their vendors to set up emergency supplies and the Government needs to provide guarantees for extended credit limits. The supplies need start moving from US day of impact and move around storm to be ready to land next day or day after.

    Team 3 – Social/Medical – We need know where the country is as a whole. Lives lost and people who need shelter, food, water or clothing.

    Team 4 – Security and Control – This is our police and international forces ensuring crime is kept under control.

    Team 5 – Clean up – This is where we put people to work assisting with clean up to make roads passable. All heavy equipment operators will be part of this along with local citizens. This helps get transport routes for material cleared and gives some people a working wage to help them afford to rebuild.

    I am sure there are parts I missed but a full comprehensive system needs be put in place for all territories.

    I think having a master contractor team would be good rather than just every Tom, Dick or Harry building. All firms would have to list with the government and then the banks run through the master contractor and jobs are issued out through master contractor. It’s much the same way a construction company has sub contractors but on a larger scale.

    What you don’t want happening is one company getting all the jobs and are unable to manage them all slowing down the rebuilding process.

    Work Permits would have to be extended so that outside labor can be brought in to help with the building process. Special fees would have to be created. Special controls to ensure that after the jobs are done they are all returned home.

    Just my thoughts




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    • jotnar says:

      I love the suggestion of using reconstruction aid as a means of revenue raising by imposing work permits. Says a lot about your attitude. Somehow I don’t think anyone in BVI is complaining that the foreign policeman patrolling their streets after 50% of the domestic force didn’t turn up for work should have work permits. Can’t people just accept aid given with gratitude instead of complaining that it’s not sufficient? Why is it always someone else’s responsibility to solve local problems? Then we spit in the help that is given free of charge. Get a sense of proportion.




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  7. Veritas says:

    I agree the UK response was wanting, but Dover and Liverpool don’t govern themselves. To all the whingeing contributors so far, please hand back your British Passports and go independent. We have seen what’s happened to the Civil Service, the Immigration Dept. etc, when Caymanians are in charge, so good luck running your own show you will need lots of it.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Veritas, I am one proud Caymanian that don’t want your British Passport. I been there a few times passing through and did not see anything i wanted there, therefore i did not leave anything that i want to go back for. I been to Turks Island and talked to the Natives during the time that the British took over the Government there and they all said it was the worst that they been off since they could remember.




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      • Veritas says:

        3.44pm Do you know why the British Government were forced to take over?, because of the greed and corruption of the “native” Prime Mnister who had to be removed from office and prosecuted.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Your cayman passport is British. Return that too if it’s no good for you.




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        • Anonymous says:

          9:15 pm, if my Caymanian Passport is British, why in the 1970’s the Cayman Passport said Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, but they only gave me one week there.. I still have that Passport.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Veritas, you keep you British passport, i don’t have or want one, so you leave with yours, ok.




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    • Pit Bull says:

      No-one would hand back their British passport. There is no finer thing for an Englishman than to know wherever he may be he can hold his passport aloft and declare “Civis Britannicus sum”.




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      • False Pretender says:

        Yes pitbull you left the C out of the last Latin word. We saw those fools in Ivan who raise up their little BOTC passports to the FCO rep checking shelters for “British Citizens” They should still be sitting there the bunch of Jackasses Keep ya piece of cardboard wrapped in Burgundy you and veritas !




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        • Pit Bull says:

          One wonderful thing about being an Englishman is that one does
          not have to give two hoots about what Johnny Foreginer thinks about you.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    “It cannot mean simply cleaning up the damage that has been done, giving people new homes and new livelihoods, and hoping that this will last for a few years until the next hurricane strikes. That is not fixing things for the long term; it is just patching things up until next time.”
    EXACTLY




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  9. Rick Berns says:

    The government appear to be asleep when it comes to BOTs, except when they want to get benefits to further their foreign policy commitments or pressure the BOTs into something. In 2004 Cayman got absolutely no assistance, despite what you read in the revised historical data. Shame.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Don’t even know where to begin as nothing about this pitiful response comes as a surprise.

    However, the “overseas territories” should expect this lack of concern from the mother country as it falls directly in line with the historical spirit of disregard toward the actual people of said “territories”.

    (Btw, I am using “” as the British government’s latest excuse in their response is “we are unable to utilise the £13 billion fund set aside for international aid as the affected jurisdictions are considered too rich under OECD regulations…”.

    Excuse me, “international aid” – why has that even entered the discussion?
    Interesting, for every time I / we even dare speak the language of self-determination and such, we are swiftly reminded of our territorial, i.e. non-state, status.
    In a genuine territorial relationship, the destruction witnessed in the eastern Caribbean would be responded to as if it occurred at Dover, Felixstowe or Liverpool.)

    In any event, I only trust, as I always do, that this will serve as yet another wake-up call for the “BOTC’s” of the Caribbean that, unless the issue benefits her in some way, the UK isn’t that bothered about our collective welfare … as people.
    (Please seek the thousands of reader comments on online news sites for further evidence.)

    Some of us have long realised the UK is barely managing to hold together its mainland so how can we expect it to aptly maintain an imperial presence oceans therefrom? She really ought to get out of the international business as she is only embarrassing herself.

    (Long gone are the days where after a major hurricane, she could just sail over to Cape Verde, purchase a few thousand more African human beings at the market (to replace the recently perished), ship them across the Atlantic, rebuild the huts, re-till the soil, and big-bam – we’re back in national-transcendently lucrative business once again.)

    Crucially, the BOT community should pay special attention to the sentiments above, for rest assured, the UK is now realising her liability and responsibilities as a modern colonial power and will make moves to protect herself.

    Let us not remain sitting ducks and get ahead of the curve of the inevitable.

    – Who

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery – none but ourselves can free our minds.”
    – Marcus Garvey (1937)

    * What becomes most evident from recent events is the pressing need for better networking and intra-regional support within the Caribbean to develop contingency plans in the events of natural disasters.
    However, that is impossible, again due to the political one-up-manship amongst the European colonising powers and or versus the independent islands nations etc.
    At the end of the day we are left with tens of thousands of people in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, dependent on aid and rescue from 5000 miles away – one navy vessel at a time … 14 days after the fact if your happen to be a “British Overseas Territory” right now. *




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you who. Well said.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Oh boo hoo, poor little Who. What have you done to help?

      Chagos…




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      • Anonymous says:

        I have offered free accommodation to a dear friend and his 3-generational family who lost EVERYTHING in Tortola.

        I am awaiting his decision.

        What have you done?

        – Whodatis

        P.S. The fact that you were limited to an ad hominem attack as a response to my post speaks volumes.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Have you seen the air base in Barbados? It’s crammed full of UK military planes bringing people and supplies and helicopters in.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Who has very large and permanently affixed blinders on.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, Whodatis has 20/20 vision when it comes to these matters.

          Hence the reason Who is so disliked by the likes of you and your online friends.

          – Who




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    • Judean Peoples Front says:

      Right on Brother ….. What did the British ever do for us anyway?




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    • Brian of Galilee says:

      Right on …European colonizing powers go home!
      Let’s have it in big letters, ten feet high and in Latin.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    “A ship from the Mediterranean!” Really, how long will that take? Have they ever heard of airplanes..They really should take a page out of the the French and Dutch books about how to take care of their people but then again we are not “real” British citizens…




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thats why the Americans have sent a task force to St Martin. The French and Dutch cannot cope




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    • Jotnar says:

      Any idea how much you can load on a ship versus an aeroplane, or how long the runways are in BVI and Anguilla, or the practicalities of getting resources there across the Atlantic? Thought not. The difference with the French and Dutch territories is that they are far more integrated, right down to the French and Dutch governments being able to station troops there on a permanent basis, along with pre positioned supplies at those bases, and have French and Dutch citizens move through and work in those territories as see fit. You cant have it both ways – be functionally independent from the UK, pay no tax, play no part in the UKs political system, object to the British government trying to hold you to the same standards and laws on human rights and LGBT, prevent free movement of UK citizens in an out of the territory, then bitch about why aid and troops are not immediately on your doorstep when you need it and why you are not treated in the same way as Liverpool would be if it had a natural disaster.




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      • Anonymous says:

        If the airplanes weren’t so useful at carrying stuff why is the Barbados airport chock-a-block w/ UK planes; big ones bringing in relief aid to be ferried by by smaller ones to the smashed islands?

        You can’t have it both ways. The proper response is “We have a ship with supplies and crew in the area for immediate relief, we’re flying in emergency aid as fast as possible (to the airports the ship-in-area has helped reopen), and have a ship with medium-term aid loading to get there a couple of weeks after the hurricane but with the non-emergency trucks, etc., that they’ll be needing then to get on their feet again.”




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        • Jotnar says:

          The first poster bitches about the aid not arriving instantaneously by ship, I point out that ships take time to get there but are better at carrying large quantities of supplies, and you are on my case rather than his. Really?




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    • Anonymous says:

      There are 3 RAF heavy lift aircraft shuttling back and forth between the UK and Barbados, moving equipment, food, water, tools and basic building supplies. There is also a Antonov heavy-lifter operating out of Barbados as well (no idea who is operating it – all NATO governments have access to a small pool of such aircraft). There are also, as of several days ago, two medium lift aircraft (designed for rough/ damaged airfields) moving people and equipment from Barbados to the rest of the Caribbean (one of which was used to get the Cayman police contingent into BVI). There are over 1000 UK servicemen and women in-area as well (will be 1200 by tomorrow). The UK is also assisting the French with moving supplies to their territories as they don’t posses any suitable aircraft at present. It’s not just HMS Ocean.
      The French and Dutch governments are also being heavily criticised for their slow response, and the US Marines only made it to the USVI yesterday, not that that excuses the UK Government.




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  12. A Point of View says:

    They just don’t get it.




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    • BELONGER says:

      Oh today………..they will give us praise and tomorrow we are a bunch of savages running a tax haven in the Caribbean, taking away all of their European business. For our good deeds that they have the ultimate responsibility for, they will then place all kinds of restrictions and obstacles to disrupt our fanancial services in the coming new year. Just watch and you’ll see the blacklisting here, there and everywhere.

      Typical Colonial Masters of the New World Order. I don’t trust any of them bastards. Bunch of wolves in sheep clothing.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly 4:03 am! Spot on belonger!




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      • Anon says:

        Until of course you need their help




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        • BELONGER says:

          Let me tell you…..this BELONGER won’t holding his breath on an Englishman in times of need. No F%$#^&* Way !!

          I’ll go to Kenneth Dart first. He was the one who helped our asses out during Ivan. Remember the ARROW cargo planes that were flying in with water, food, ice, tarpaulin etc… for about three weeks straight. (day & night)

          Let’s no forget Mrs Oldie who took care of the East Enders as well.




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          • Anonymous says:

            And Cayman has been been paying for it ever since – bit by bit he gets more a more tax concessions and land




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    • Anonymous says:

      Not a clue. Anyone seen that list yet?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Au contraire, they most definitely do get it.

      It is we BOTC’s that don’t get it.

      – Who

      (Not actually opposing your post. Full support here.)




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