UK and OTs agree to special Brexit negotiation talks in 2017
LONDON - At the recently concluded Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) in London, the United Kingdom government and the political leaders of the Overseas Territories (OTs) agreed to hold special ministerial talks in early 2017 on Brexit negotiations before Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered.
Minister for Exiting the EU, Robin Walker, confirmed the UK’s commitment to such a meeting during an exchange with OT leaders at the JMC.
British Virgin Islands Premier Dr Orlando Smith, who attended the annual OT-UK ministerial meetings, welcomed UK agreement to the special talks with the OTs on Brexit negotiation, saying, “I am pleased that the UK acknowledges the importance of the OTs having high-level engagement on Brexit negotiations which will affect our position.”
While at the JMC, Smith also held a bilateral meeting with UK Overseas Territories Minister, Baroness Aneley and also met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, with whom he had a positive exchange.
The premier also signed a memorandum of understanding on child safeguarding between the Overseas Territories and delivered the keynote address at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) JMC reception, which officially closed the week’s JMC 2016 activities.
During his address, the premier said, “Importantly, the UK decision to leave the EU was not only a game-changer for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but for the whole UK family of which the Overseas Territories are an integral part. Brexit is now a journey we must embark on together and together we can make a success of it.”
The premier, who is currently the president of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Political Council (UKOTA), which ends in January 2017, will remain engaged with the UK government on preparations for the special OT-UK ministerial meeting on the Brexit negotiation early next year.
The Joint Ministerial Council is an annual meeting between UK ministers and OT leaders to discuss the OT-UK relationship.
By Natalie Hodge
Photo: UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (6th right) and Overseas Territories leaders meeting recently in London