UK & BVI fail to reach agreement on removing order in council

Minister of State for Overseas Territories Lord, Zac Goldsmith.

A meeting between British Virgin Islands officials and Minister of State for Overseas Territories Lord, Zac Goldsmith, on Thursday, did not result in the United Kingdom Government agreeing to dispose of a court order that would allow it to impose the direct rule of the territory.

The meeting between Goldsmith and Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley and other officials took place yesterday.

The UK sought an Order in Council from the Privy Council last year to ensure that governance concerns, which were raised in a Commission of Inquiry report, are addressed.

If the order is enforced, the BVI’s House of Assembly would be dissolved and sections of the constitution would be suspended for a period of two years. Governor John Rankin and a team would take over governance of the territory until the reforms are completed.

Removing the order will fall in the hands of the Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly who is Goldsmith’s boss.

In a statement following the meeting, Goldsmith said: “The Premier made clear his strength of feeling about the Order in Council and we too want to see these reforms seen through, such that the Order can be lifted.”

“I assure you I will continue to support the British Virgin Islands both in the next few months and after the general election in taking these reforms forward so that we can realise the Premier’s vision of the BVI as a beacon of democracy.”

Goldsmith has departed the BVI after wrapping up a three-day visit to the territory.

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