Date set for UK-CIG constitutional talks

| 22/11/2018 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service

UK and Cayman Islands flags outside Government Administration Building, George Town

(CNS): After almost six months of trying to secure a meeting with the British government to discuss the constitutional relationship between Cayman and the UK, the premier has confirmed that talks have now been set for next month. Alden McLaughlin said that after the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London, he will head a delegation to persuade the UK that the 2009 Constitution needs to be revised to secure “autonomous capacity in domestic affairs” for the Cayman Islands government following what he has called the constitutional overreach regarding the beneficial ownership registry controversy.

The premier will be joined by Financial Services Minister Tara Rivers, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin as well as Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller and his deputy, Alva Suckoo, in a show of unity as they attempt to secure a new constitutional agreement that will see the UK’s power confined to the enforcement and the implementation of international obligations and where the Cayman Islands is not in breach of international standards, the power of internal self-governance is absolute.

In a statement to the Legislative Assembly Thursday morning, McLaughlin said that while the UK had agreed to discuss the matter, there had been considerable back and forth on how to progress the talks and no date had been set.

But finally last week the UK agreed to meet the delegation on Friday, 7 December.

The decision by government to seek a constitutional change was triggered by the passage of an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Bill in the UK that required the British Overseas Territories with a financial services sector to establish public registers of beneficial ownership before 31 December 2020. If the territories fail to do so, the law requires Britain to issue an order in council, changing local laws to force the implementation of registers.

McLaughlin has said that he does not accept that the United Kingdom Parliament has the right to legislate for the Cayman Islands when it comes to domestic matters that are already devolved and he is supported by the opposition leader. In his statement today, he once again expressed his concern about the constitutional overreach.

“Not just because of the public beneficial ownership issue it is trying to force on us,” he said. “It is also concerning because with the UK Parliament now believing that it can legislate for us in a fashion that, based on longstanding constitutional convention, it previously accepted that it should not, the parliament may feel emboldened to do so again in the future on any number of matters that it sees fit.”

McLaughlin said the vote in the UK House of Commons “represented a line that, once crossed,
cannot be uncrossed.” With the government and the opposition “of one mind” in the need for safeguards, the premier said he appreciated the bipartisanship displayed over the issue and that it was “important that we in this House are fully in agreement”.

The premier has already discussed the issue with the Constitution Commission, the attorney general and constitutional legal advisers, he told the LA, and goal was “to put the Cayman Islands in the best possible position constitutionally to govern our own affairs, to resist constitutional overreach by the UK Government and Parliament, and to continue to thrive and prosper as a modern, progressive and successful democracy”.

He explained that the delegation would seek to have the Constitution clarified to ensure the government has autonomous capacity in respect of domestic affairs and that the UK Parliament will not legislate, directly or indirectly, without consultation or, in matters of domestic autonomy, without the consent of the Cayman Islands.

“This matches the objectives of the 2012 White Paper and endorses its balance between self-determination and the responsibilities of the UK,” he said. “We believe it should be made clear that the UK’s power over international affairs be confined to the enforcement and implementation of clear international obligations of the United Kingdom alone and that it also be made clear that, provided the Cayman Islands is not in breach of international standards, the power of internal self-governance is absolute and that the power of disallowance with respect to legislation passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands be removed, as is the case with the Gibraltar Constitution.”

The proposals are not intended to secure the Cayman Islands’ independence, the premier stated, or usurp the UK’s proper role in external affairs, or even to attain a degree of autonomy beyond the accepted status of the Crown Dependencies, but rather to secure autonomy in domestic affairs.

The premier said that he would keep the Legislative Assembly and the country up to date on the issue and that before any final safeguards to the Constitution are agreed, any proposed revisions will be debated in the Legislative Assembly.

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Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a meeting to discuss independence, nothing less! That’s the position Alden has adopted without officially informing Cayman and by including Ezzard in these talks (whom everyone knows favours independence) the Premier will establish a bi-partisan position to move forward with that, despite what the majority wants. Hope he’ll be willing to put this important question to a referendum, unlike his sentiments about the Port development!

    Anyway, although Ezzard is pro-independence, he’s no fool and will not support that move if it’s not viable at this time (which it isn’t) just so that Alden can become the first Prime Minister!! That’s his goal before retirement!

  2. Anonymous says:

    An important meeting like that being held on a Friday??? It will be a Yes or No answer then, becuz if it wasn’t they would have allocated more time and started even say on a Wednesday.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As long as Big Mac isn’t in the negotiating team I am good

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sure Mr. Premier, Up-to-date to the legislative assembly and the country. That will be just like when you were the minister for the cayman islands garbage. The only time it were a sudden update on the garbage. when it were publicity time in the media for the premier throwing a tire or two for the tire project.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If they can get rid of this bullshit political system that gives Lodge rule, I would say the underdogs have a shot at independence.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Glad to Hear Ezzard Miller and Alva Suckoo will be part of the negotiating team, at the very least we know the Premier cannot agree to anything without their consent and it shows a united front to the UK which has never been shown before

    • Anonymous says:

      Ironically, the sudden inclusion of Opposition in discussions demonstrates that this Unity regime is conscious of their continual breaches of domestic legislative procedure by excluding them from everything else.

  7. Bodden Town says:

    As usual [yawn] …

    I bet ya, they will be pestering us to accept a gay lifestyle. And … then, if we refuse, we better fear independence .. you know, the usual threats.

    By the way, see link below –

    From long time, they’ve been watching us and know our addresses. Our devices, phones, and computers are all linked to the Ministry.

    Just sharing ?

    • Anonymous says:

      With everything going on in Cayman that needs to be addressed, the “gay lifestyle” is the biggest thing in your mind? Wow… I’m more concerned about the waste of the dock, the crappy schools and sub-par education, the prices of real estate and gas, the pitiful amount of good jobs and the rising poverty level than what two men or two women do in the privacy of their own homes.

      • Anonymous says:

        …but what about one man AND two women (or vice versa). That ranks pretty high.

      • Bodden Town says:

        You didn’t noticed I “yawn” … I mean to say, its not a big deal to me, or the biggest thing on my mind … rather, its with

        THEM ?

        • Anonymous says:

          Not a big deal to you then whats the issue?
          You brought it up, they haven’t forced it on any of the rest of the OT
          Even Bermuda when they had every chance to do so
          You people as usual trying to stir up resentment acting as if you dont care about it when it is all you can think or talk about

          Why are you so obsessed with gay people
          Maybe you have some unresolved emotional conflicts you need to handle

          • Anonymous says:

            The one who replied first seems to be the emotionally upset one. That would be you

          • Anonymous says:

            Everyone has a right to be contrary 1:36 pm , if you can’t dig that then dig where you customarlily do so.

    • Josh says:

      9:52 and your cohorts, please demonstrate wherein the document you have shared is stated that the law is extended to the BOTC. It would be very helpful if you could otherwise people may think you are Trumpeyeering ( scaremongering).

  8. Anonymous says:

    If this goes as CIG plans then the Standards for Public Life will never be enacted or enforced.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The end is nigh. Investments in shipping companies are about to pay dividends.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Once again, no mandate to adopt this stance. No consultation with constituents at all! We need the UK veto to keep autocrats in check.

  11. Anonymous says:

    If Alden truly wants autonomy in regards to domestic affairs why is he more than happy to leave issues like policing and crime to the governor
    Surely the best way to show the UK we are ready for more self governance is not blaming the Governor whenever something goes wrong and saying that has nothing to do with me

    All I am seeing from this Unity Government is a desire to strengthen their position as autocrats

    Let’s just take a second and have a good laugh at this line:
    “continue to thrive and prosper as a modern, progressive and successful democracy””

    Modern? Maybe if modern is to puritanical standards
    Progressive? Regressive maybe
    Successful Democracy? In a country where the two opposing parties collude to override the democratic will of the people, I think not ( 2017 Election aftermath, Port Referendum Issue etc etc)

    Crack me up with these ones

    As the original constitution was approved by Referendum, I would hope any amendments would be held to that same standard
    But of course our “successful democratic” leaders have no interest in the will of the people
    Seemingly they are allergic to it

    They claim to only be interested in internal matters but want to remove the governor’s veto power and replace it with the Premier having a veto on choice of Governor
    Make no mistake, this is nothing more than a consolidation of power within the political system and the UK will see it as nothing more than that

    and what happens when they deny the requests… we shall see

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I agree with anonymous 7: 47 pm , and that the Premier should make it more clearly to the people of Cayman islands about the Constitutional changes that he intends to do before he leaves to go into it , and the People should also have a voice in those changes . He also needs to make it more understandable and not this gibberish that is in this article .

      • Mike says:

        First things first Ron. I believe the Premier’s news release says that if a position is agreed, it will be discussed in Parliament! Hold your horses and await that happening.

        • Ron Ebanks says:

          Mike , I have seen a lot of politicians say things , and I have learned to believe it when I see it . And sometime you you have to hold them accountable .

          • Tell it like it is says:

            Ron, you read other people read, a high percentage of people read. The points to be discussed have been publicized several times . It does not bode well for your political career (haha) to be hanging on to everything somebody else says, in other words piggy backing off of the comments of others. Oh I use to be ya fishing buddy ( ha)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Please ignore him. He and his government seem incapable of running a modern and free democracy. We need more U.K. involvement in our domestic affairs, not less.

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