(CNS Business): The premier will be heading to London Friday with a small government team for the special meeting with UK officials and the heads of other overseas territories on the thorny issue of Brexit and how it will impact Cayman and the other British dependent territories. The Joint Ministerial Council Brexit meeting was agreed and set last year following the annual JMC in October last year to allow the territories the chance to discuss Britain’s departure from the European Union before Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered and exit talks begin.
This week UK politicians voted to evoke the treaty following a debate in parliament, where, despite the support given to the government, many concerns were raised by MPs about the talks ahead and what deals, if any, the UK will end up with. The Conservative government sill has to steer the bill through the House of Lords before the EU negotiations can begin.
Although the details of Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy and vision for the country’s departure is still vague, she has outlined some certainties, including leaving the single market, which presents some challenges for UK’s own financial services, never mind those of its territories. But she has also warned that she is prepared to walk way from the EU without any trade or other deals if she cannot agree a future outside the Union for the UK with the Europe states, reverting to World Trade Organisation rules.
Speaking at the Fidelity Cayman Economic Outlook conference Thursday, Premier Alden McLaughlin said that the results of the UK’s Brexit referendum in June last year was one of the major changes over the last year that has made the future, for economists especially, difficult to predict or plan for in terms of policy. He pointed to the improved relationship his administration now has with the UK following the more acrimonious dealings the previous government had with the governor and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
But regardless of how well McLaughlin and his Cabinet are managing the relationship, the Cayman Islands and its financial sector will be dependent on how well May can manage what are expected to be exceptionally difficult negotiations with the EU.
Financial Services Minister Wayne Panton, who is currently in Brussels on related government business, will be joining the premier in London. The delegation also includes Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose, Senior Political Advisor Roy Tatum and Joint Ministerial Council “Sherpa” Jason Webster.