Premier Burt: ‘We Will Strenuously Resist”

February 22, 2019 | 47 Comments

Following a British committee recommending the Overseas Territories “ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory,” the Premier said “we will strenuously resist” as “to suggest that non-Bermudians should have the right to determine the direction of our country via the ballot” is a “tone-deaf recommendation.”

British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry Report Released

That recommendation was from the report from the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry, which conducted an inquiry late last year, with the Committee now releasing their findings.

Their report states that the OTs “must act to reduce areas of divergence and friction” which “must include legalising same-sex marriage and working with the Foreign Secretary to set out a timetable for the publication of registers of beneficial ownership in each OT.”

Recommendation: Allow ‘All Resident UK & British Overseas Territory Citizens To Be Able To Vote’

What is one of the most notable changes they recommend is changes to voting policies, as if all “resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens” could vote as their report recommends, it would change the voting base substantially, as currently only Bermudians can vote.

“Belongership and its equivalents are wrong,” the report said. “We do not accept that there is any justification to deny legally-resident British Overseas Territory and UK citizens the right to vote and to hold elected office.

“This elevates one group of British people over another and risks undermining the ties that bind the UK and the OTs together in one global British family.

“The UK Government should initiate a consultation with the elected governments of the OTs and work with them to agree a plan to ensure that there is a pathway for all resident UK and British Overseas Territory citizens to be able to vote and hold elected office in territory.

“In its response to this report the FCO should lay out a timetable for this consultation process and set a deadline for phasing out discriminatory elements of belongership.”

Recommendation: All OTs Should Have SSM, If Not The UK Government Should Order Them To

The report said, “It is time for all OTs to legalise same-sex marriage and for the UK Government to do more than simply support it in principle. It must be prepared to step in, as it did in 2001 when an Order in Council decriminalised homosexuality in OTs that had refused to do so.

“The Government should set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. If that deadline is not met, the Government should intervene through legislation or an Order in Council.”

Chair’s Comments

Chair of Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, commented “For the Overseas Territories, Global Britain is a living reality. Each OT is unique but all of them take great pride in their British identities and their strong bonds with the UK.

“The UK and the OTs are family, but that relationship must be underpinned by shared duties to each other and values. That is why we call for the UK government to reconsider the relationship and are critical of Belongership and its equivalents. We also call on the OTs which have not yet done so to legalise same sex marriage.

“Now is the time to tackle tensions and reset the relationship. We are calling for Government to step back and take a considered view of how we engage with each other. Providing certainty for the OTs will strengthen our ties.

“Just as we must stick to the date Parliament set as part of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, we must reopen the discussion on the best way to manage the relationships between us will give voice to the Overseas Territories in Whitehall so that future changes required by our shared security include wider input from the Overseas Territories.”

The Committee calls on the UK Government to:

  • “Commission an independent review into cross-government engagement with the Overseas Territories, to include FCO management of its responsibilities and consider the costs, benefits and risks of moving primary responsibility for the OTs away from the Foreign Office;
  • “Consider a new formal mechanism by which members of the relevant select committees can scrutinise the UK Government’s administration of, expenditure on and policy towards the OTs.
  • “Set a date by which it expects all OTs to have legalised same-sex marriage. The UK Government must be prepared to intervene through legislation or an Order in Council if the date is not met.
  • “Phase out Belongership and its local equivalents, which make it impossible for some British citizens in the OTs to vote or hold elected office.
  • “Provide a clear and detailed timetable for the publication of registers of beneficial ownership in each OT – in line with Parliament’s recognition that this is a matter of national security;
  • “Provide clarity on funding for the OTs, including any lost EU funding, based on a ‘clear-eyed assessment’ of how the UK will balance the needs of individual OTs against value for money for UK taxpayers. This should include exploring options for a dedicated development and stimulus fund to allow for the long-term, sustainable development of aid-dependent territories.
  • “Address concerns in the OTs about the issue of citizenship by descent and anomalies in the British Nationality Act.

Committee Recommendations As UK Seek A ‘Global Britain’

The recommendations contained above are from the committee, so will not necessarily become law, however one aspect they mention is already underway, as the UK is in the process of enforcing the law they passed law year to order the Overseas Territories to make their registers public.

This all comes as Britain is making their final preparations to exit the European Union and is seeking to incorporate the Overseas Territories as they build what they term a “Global Britain.”

“These and the other recommendations in this report can help to ensure that the bonds between the UK and the British Overseas Territories are strengthened and that together we can truly be a Global Britain,” the report said.

Premier David Burt’s Response

Following the release of the Report of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Premier David Burt stated: “This is a Report from the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The Government of Bermuda is reviewing the Report and will be ready to address any issues that may arise. Separately, we are focused on preparing Bermuda for what may emerge as a result of Brexit, a situation which can best be described as evolving daily.”

The Premier observed that Bermuda’s position on the adoption of a public register of beneficial ownership has been consistent over several years and reiterated that:“Bermuda is committed to meeting any properly adopted, global standard for such matters and will work with the UK Government as necessary once such a global standard is agreed.”

On the issue of same-sex marriage, the Premier noted that this matter was currently before the Courts and as such no further comment could be made at this time.

The Premier continued: “The right to vote is perhaps the most highly valued right in a democracy. To suggest that non-Bermudians should have the right to determine the direction of our country via the ballot box ignores the history of voting rights in Bermuda and is a tone-deaf recommendation which we will strenuously resist.”

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Comments (47)

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  1. sandgrownan says:

    “…is a “tone-deaf recommendation.”

    The only people that are tone deaf are the PLP. The Failing Burt needs to focus on how he’s going to sell raising taxes on a shrinking tax base.

    • Black Soil says:

      The PLP will force Bermuda to pay the steep price of independence before it faces up to delivering on human rights. The PLP will rather rule in hell than anything else.

      • Vortex says:

        Seems fair to me, Bermudians living in UK can vote there.

        Only reason Burt objects is because they are more likely to vote OBA.

        • Valerie A Thonas says:

          I agree whole heartily.. You hit.the nail on the head as far as Burts objection to letting Bermudians who live abroad vote. I have property in Bermuda,& pay land tax to the government but was told by Burt himself being as I do not reside in Bermuda why should I have a vote. Well I pay the land tax,& I think that entitles me the right to vote. Need to have absentt voting.

  2. JohnnyB says:

    OK but what will you do about the voting rights for Bermudians abroad? Why can they still not submit an absentee vote? Makes sense to tackle the issue at the same time.

    • PBanks says:

      Fair question but I don’t think it was on the PLP’s radar in their manifesto. The OBA pledged to address it in their 2012 manifesto, but never got on it, unfortunately.

  3. Jt says:

    This was perfect timing for the Premier. Something to draw attention from our real problems.

    • JohnnyB says:

      YUP, the PLP will put all their effort into distracting the public from the real issues and put ALL their effort into fighting this leaving the real issues behind. Sadly the people who voted them in will fall for this tactic AGAIN as they always do and give them full support while using their only three arguments (airport, AC, 25-11) as justification that the opposition doesn’t know how to run a country. Sad and pathetic to be honest. Maybe their eyes will open once this tax reform hits and they realize the PLP has just effed them.

    • Then Don't let them! says:

      Its up to us not to let them deflect and shift the narrative.

      ITS OUR TAXPAYER MONEY! THEY HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ALL BERMUDIANS, not just PLP Bermudians.

      Its about the economy and this Gvt is doing nothing to stimulate it.

      They are acting like amateurs.

      Its simple–cut expenses and grow the revenue base. Bottom line–we need more people paying into the system

      Not rocket science here!

      Does the PLP have the guts to act like experts and put country first over party and politics. This is the Premiers defining moment–let’s see if he become a great leader or another posturing politician.

  4. Bermuda belongs to England . They will direct our way forward if the PLP neglects to state clearly what their policy is . Are we still waiting until July 2019 before the PLP reveals their policy on Comprehensive Immigration ?Or is the cry , ” I’m going , I’m going . Just don’t push me .” In the end will foreigners get the right to vote ? Will persons who have been here for only 5 years get status ? Will gay marriage become law ? Mr. Burt we await your answer .

    • sandgrownan says:

      He’s like a deer in the headlights. The honeymoon is over, it’s a distant memory, the cold, hard reality of the PLP debt, the shrinking tax base and homophobic and racist population.

      This is the least of his worries.

      • Black Panther says:

        “racist population”? Are you saying that their still are a lot of whites in Bermuda who are that way Sangrowman? Even in 2019? Some things never change.

        Thanks for the eyeopener Sangrowman. Good looking out.

  5. Retro says:

    It’s just a committee recommendation albeit a very antagonistic one. The joke of it is that Britain,in a legal sense, cannot enforce any of these recommendations . This is just political shut stirring not unlike the Leave Campaign. Don’t take the bait.

  6. One Who Escaped says:

    We were not allowed to vote on Brexit, were we? That was important to the OTs. Seems one sided.

    • question says:

      As a matter for fact you would have been allowed to vote on Brexit had you been resident in the UK at the time.
      So I agree, currently it certainly is one-sided.

    • Kathy says:

      AGREE 100%! If I were the Premier, I would write them a kind note stating:

      1. Where was our representation when you stripped away our rights to all of Europe in your Brexit vote. I don’t seem to recall being invited to even give representation from this country. You want rights to vote on our 21 square mile island, piss off!

      2. No publication of registers of beneficial ownership until it becomes a full global standard to include the UK (where it is only voluntarily required at the moment) and the USA (where they never intend to fulfill the requirement and are one of the largest tax havens in the world), so piss off!

      3. You keep pushing the envelope with Bermuda and you will invite more and more people towards independence, even if that is not the direction we would prefer to take.

  7. Joe Bloggs says:

    It is a committee report, it is NOT the policy of the UK Government and it is NOT a threat or a promise to do anything anytime soon.

    PLEASE concentrate on things that matter, not distractions from other countries that have little if anything to do with our immediate problems.

  8. shorto says:

    So remember: Cant have it both ways! Be very careful!
    Bermudians have travelled to UK -Receive reduced Education fees, Receive housing subsidies, receive unemployment- Government housing access- NHS and other services- Don’t cut off your nose as the saying goes- Cant have it both ways!

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s what I thought. Don’t we have these rights in the UK as OT citizens? Can’t we go to the UK and vote/work/hold office? Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but if this is the case and then the government wants to turn around and not allow people from the uk to have these same rights within Bermuda, that’s not right.

  9. Warwick West says:

    while I do have an opinion on this entire matter, the more significant thing to remember is, at this point, the British govt. is in CHAOS with BREXIT and all the fallout from that; with heavens knows what still to come.

    They have bigger fish to fry than new rules for the OT’s at this time, so don’t get your knickers in a twist. The way things are going we have no idea WHO will govern Britian let alone what rules they INTEND to (try and) make for the OT’s. So wait and see what ‘survival Britian’ looks like before worrying about dic tats regarding the OT’s.

  10. Warwick West says:

    mine just sent WRT Britian in chaos. Here is my contact details. Sorry.

  11. Well we are an extention of England and from this protected fro economic and other intrusive behaviour.
    It is buisiness above that…then aliens!
    I am sheikh…and as such must speak truth!

  12. Stand For Truth says:

    This is a perfect example of white supremacy my way or else.

  13. aceboy says:

    Silly Brits. Don’t they realize that they are dealing with Wakanda!?

    Davey Bitcoin will just jump into his suit and deal with you lot!

  14. ROBERT STEWART says:

    This is consistent with the UN Declaration on Human Rights which the UK has to enforce as a member of the United Nations.

    • Retro says:

      Not even close .This is Britain trying to ditch the OTs through political manipulation . There is no pressure from the UN .I personally support a pathway to citizenship for all nationalities but this approach is way off the mark . The only ones who will be happy with this are the pro independence crowd and that’s definitely no coincidence.

  15. St.George's Passport and Immigration Control says:

    I have a feeling the days of the plp Government are numbered and Mother England is going to deal with them.

  16. Me says:

    More trips for Mr B and sergeant tiddy mild to scold mother england ,

  17. Triangle Drifter says:

    We are in safe hands. Premier Burt now has another reason for a trip to England so that he can “strenuously resist”.

    Yeah, that ought to fix it. He will strenuously resist & the Brits will cower in fear of the power of Burt.

    We can move over there, take up permanent residence & vote. No reason why a Brit living here fulltime cannot do the same.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *Yeah, that ought to fix it. He will strenuously resist & the Brits will cower in fear of the power of Burt.*

      LOL , like the tremendous effect had when that group led by Marc Bean flew to the UK to whine that it just wasn’t fair that the OBA had won the election and the PLP weren’t going to have their way for a while.

  18. Sheikh Grabbir Boubi Haide D'Salaamie says:

    Rigorously?

  19. PANGAEA says:

    I am tired of the candidates of Hobson’s choice .
    Taxation with out representation .
    If you say it loud enough it will echo across the land.

  20. Up D Hill says:

    Plainly obvious grandstanding to deflect the thought process of the Bermudians who put the PLP back in power. The lack of doing “ANYTHING” positive to stimulate and attract business to Bermuda by the PLP is a trait also obvious . Riding the OBA wave will come to an end soon enough, like it or not that is a fact. Question is, what will be Bermudians thought process when that happens…

  21. ? says:

    Does everyone agree residents with PRC should be allowed to vote along side Bermudians?

  22. History says:

    The history of voting rights in Bermuda will clearly show that UK citizens arriving in Bermuda prior to 1976 were permitted to vote in general elections if they registered. The then UBP took that right away shortly to be followed by no more grants of Bermuda status. All of these moves were politically motivated and completely unjust in all aspects. The PLP are terrified that they might lose power under the suggested idea. If the PLP genuinely respected all Bermudians they might not think the idea was so unusual. Instead they continue to cater to certain Bermudians only.

  23. Berny Greens says:

    Remember we only vote for race on this island not for what’s right!

  24. Oh,I see now says:

    Retro says:
    February 22, 2019
    Not even close .This is Britain trying to ditch the OTs through political manipulation . There is no pressure from the UN .I personally support a pathway to citizenship for all nationalities but this approach is way off the mark . The only ones who will be happy with this are the pro independence crowd and that’s definitely no coincidence.

    I agree, they don’t want to look like bad parents that abruptly kicked us out of the house.

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