Parliamentary Committee criticises inadequate Government Brexit response on behalf of Overseas Territories

London

The Select Committee took evidence, some months ago, on the impact of Brexit on the Overseas Territories.   Respondents included Premiers, Chief Ministers and representatives of Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Committee wrote to the Secretary of State in September 2017, stating that Brexit will have a significant impact on the islands in diverse and challenging ways.

Five months after the original letter was sent to the Secretary of State, the Government response was received on 19 February.

The Committee has made a written complaint at the lack of detail in the Government’s response - and has requested a more thorough reply to the specific concerns of the Overseas Territories.

In the letter to David Davis, the Chair of the Committee, Lord Boswell writes: “we are disappointed at your lack of engagement with or acknowledgement of a number of the detailed questions set out in our letter.”

In relation to EU funding, it notes a failure to respond to the question regarding the shortfall in funding to support biodiversity.

In relation to the potential continuation specified funding after 2020, the Government’s approach is to say that “after we leave the EU we will need to consider how best to continue to deliver our policy objectives in this area”.

In relation to trade with the EU, there is “only a passing reference to financial services, and no reply to our question about the steps that the UK will take to support the Overseas Territories in their discussions with the EU about financial services cooperation, equivalence and related matters, including best practice and transparency.”

On relations with EU and neighbouring territories, there is a failure to mention or respond to the question regarding “Anguilla’s concerns about its relations with its neighbouring territories, nor the cooperation of other Overseas Territories with their neighbouring territories in relation to the travel and healthcare needs of their citizens.”

In Gibraltar 96 per cent of citizens voted to Remain in 2016 - by far the highest anywhere, there is a “sophisticated understanding” of how Brexit will impact both people and the economy.  A ‘hard’ Brexit means a hard border between Gibraltar and Spain.  It would be even worse for Gibraltar than Northern Ireland, as almost everything Gibraltar needs relies to an extent on Spanish cooperation.