Addressing a massive crowd in front of Government House following the Decision March, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier, said that the BVI has declared war with the United Kingdom (UK) and has essentially filed for a divorce.
Thousands of residents joined the bipartisan march held yesterday afternoon, May 24, to protest the decision by the UK to impose public registers for beneficial ownership on the BVI.
“We need to ensure that we understand the real issue and where we stand here today, that we have declared open war on the UK with respect to this Sanction and Anti-Money Laundering Amendment Bill; we have declared war because we do not agree. So, we have to be prepared to fight,” a passionate Hon. Pickering said.
He continued, “We have to be prepared to follow the strategy going forward…This is a fight that we are in that we cannot afford to lose because dead is dead. So is either we stand up and fight until we dead or we going to lie down and let them kill us.”
Hon. Pickering said that the petition, which was signed by hundreds and handed over to the Acting Governor David Archer, is filing for divorce from the UK.
“So, we are entering a divorce, we are filing a petition for divorce from the United Kingdom, that is what we have effectively done by filing this petition,” he said.
Governor Gus Jaspert is away from the Territory and Archer will hand over the signed petition to the UK representative upon his return.
The Natural Resources Minister was also quick to point out that the divorce does not have to be done in a hostile manner.
“We do not need to fight or divorce in any acrimonious or quarrelling way; let us just separate from each other in a nice and agreeable way. Let’s sit down and have a conversation…We want you to do some things for us to ensure that we are put on our feet and be able to choose our destiny,” he stated.
The Deputy Premier told residents that there is no turning back after yesterday’s protest.
“Now I am not telling you that independence is the only way forward, because that’s not true. This is a new world, new economic order; there are ways that we can find to separate from the UK and chart our way forward and we have the brain power to do it and we must do it,” he asserted.
The Seventh District Representative suggested that with funding from the UK, they hire three international scholars to help chart the BVI forward without being under the UK’s bosom.
“So I have recommended, and we should ask the UK to pay for this, that we should employ three scholars from various parts of the world—from Asia-Pacific region, one from Europe, Caribbean/Latin American region; trained people who are brilliant academic scholars who understand what direction the world is going.”
He said, “Let them come up with suggestions to us as to exactly what our path should be, who we should associate ourselves with, how we should form unions going forward. We of course need to be part of the OECS, CARICOM, Economic Commission of Latin America. These are all things we need to do with our economic survival.”
Hon. Pickering made the point that no country is independent in the current global state.
“But there are no independent nations in the world, everybody is associated with somebody. That is what the EU is all about…The UK is trying to withdraw from EU, that’s why they are having their Brexit and they want to make us a pond in their fight with Europe,” he stressed.
The Minister mentioned the many things the BVI has done to remain intentionally regulatory in the financial services sector.
“We are complying with all you want us to do, what more they want us to do? These people are just down right unfair, it’s unjust and we must stand up and tell them that no way we are going to allow this to happen to us,” Hon. Pickering said.