Sir Hilary: European Leaders Singing From The Same Hymn Sheet On Reparations
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Britain has never been able to settle comfortably in a European context and will do all it can to move away from the EU, according to UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hillary Beckles.
He was commenting on a recent shock high court decision that is forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to let Britain’s parliamentarians vote on triggering the Brexit process.
WINN FM asked Sir Hilary about that matter, and how a UK move out of Europe could affect the Caribbean’s case for reparations for slavery from Britain and other European countries which benefited from the Trans Atlantic slave trade.
“When the Brexit was originally declared I gave a statement in which I said Britain has not been able to settle comfortably in a European context. In fact, Britain has always seen a threat to its nationalism with integrated Europe and I can assure you that if you can take a lesson from history the British are going to do their best willingly, or unwillingly, consciously subconsciously to see the disintegration of the European Union.”
The Vice Chancellor was asked to what extent does what is happening impact the Caribbean’s quest for reparations, he had this response.
“We’ve heard a statement from the French Prime Minister on his tour to Africa in which he said that the black people of Africa and the Caribbean must put our history behind us and move on. This is the same statement that Prime Minister Cameron gave in the Jamaican parliament earlier this year when he visited the Caribbean. All the European governments are singing from the hymn sheet. Their view is they will not be held accountable, they will not take responsibility and because of their economic and political power around the world, they believe that the rest of us must be intimidated into accepting their philosophy. That position is consistent with all we know with how they have conducted their international diplomacy and foreign affairs, so there were no surprises there we know that’s how they feel about it but you know what history shows, that when you have a just cause, when you have a right cause, you must press on because there always comes a time. We are going to press ahead, this is a movement that is over 200 years old, from the moment that slavery was abolished in the Caribbean, the African people in the Caribbean and the indigenous people have been saying where is our justice, where is our reparatory justice? The movement is getting larger and larger by generation, it’s now a global movement and the whole world has to take this on board. We believe that this is going to be the 21st century global movement, there will be no movement that will be as great and profound as the global reparatory justice movement.”
On Brexit specifically, reports from London say Prime Minister May could try and overturn the Brexit court ruling by claiming the triggering of Article 50 has no direct impact on British citizens’ rights.
Article 50 when triggered, will officially launch withdrawal talks.
A senior Government source revealed that lawyers are exploring whether the argument could give Ms May the edge to reverse the Court decision.
The line of argument relies on the notion of Britain’s “dualist” legal system – the idea that international law is not applicable in the UK until it is translated into national legislation.
If Prime Minister May’s lawyers can convince judges that triggering Article 50 of the EU Treaty is purely an international affair, that in isolation does not directly impact on British law, they can claim it does not impinge on British citizens’ rights and so does not require an Act of Parliament.
Meanwhile the UK’s overseas territories including those in the Caribbean are looking forward to special ministerial talks in early 2017 on Brexit negotiations before Article 50 is triggered.
The talks were agreed on at a recent Joint Ministerial Council in London.
British Virgin Islands Premier Orlando Smith has welcomed the coming negotiations between the UK government and the political leaders of the Overseas Territories.
Dr Smith says he is heartened that Britain is acknowledging the importance of the overseas territories having high-level engagement on Brexit negotiations which will affect the position of these territories.