“No Change To Long Standing Official Position”

May 29, 2018

“There is no change to the long standing official position,” Government House said following Premier David Burt’s comments on independence, with Government House citing the 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories [PDF] which said “any decision to sever the constitutional link between the UK and a Territory should be on the basis of the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territory.”

Premier’s Comments

During the special joint sitting of Parliament held last week, Premier Burt made multiple references to Independence, calling it the “next chapter.”

“The Bermuda Constitution Order was largely the British contribution to this narrative, and the intent was that we, the people of Bermuda, would finish the story by writing our own chapter called Independence,” Premier Burt said.

“The constitution of the party that I am privileged to lead, states that the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party is to, ‘serve as a vehicle in moving Bermuda to independence.’ So, it can and should be no surprise that as Premier, I have no fears about repeating that ultimate aim.

“The fits and starts, the passing flirtations with independence have never taken hold in the hearts and minds of the people. This is perhaps because we, as politicians, have been consumed with managing Bermuda and all its disparate interests and have never turned our collective energies towards establishing the vision required to lead Bermuda into the next chapter of her constitutional development.”

Comments Made As UK Parliament Legislates For Territories 

The relationship between the Territories and the UK has been the subject of discussion lately as the the UK Parliament recently made amendments to a Bill seeking to force the Overseas Territories to implement public ownership registers, a move which prompted accusations of colonialism from some of the Territories.

The Premier also brought this up during his speech last week, saying, “A country with a Parliament that still thinks it is right to legislate for its colonies from Westminster; a place where we have no voice, a place where we have no vote, and a place where our people’s futures are treated as convenient political punching bags without regard for the lives that are impacted by the UK’s domestic political squabbles.

“It is unacceptable in a modern democracy to have decisions made thousands of miles away that impact our customs, our institutions, and our livelihoods.”

“Though we may now be referred to as ‘overseas territories’ – it is just the politically correct way to say that we are a colonial possession of the United Kingdom,” the Premier added.

On May 24th, Premier Burt joined other Territory leaders on a 35 minute phone call with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, during which the Premier said he restated the “Government of Bermuda’s position: this country does not recognize the right of the UK Parliament to legislate on matters which are internal affairs reserved to Bermuda under its constitution.

“I reiterated our position that Bermuda will implement a public register of beneficial ownership when it is a global standard,” the Premier added.

Government House Response

We asked for a response to the Premier’s remarks during the special joint session, and Government House said, “There is no change to the long standing official position which was reconfirmed in the 2012 White Paper on the Overseas Territories [PDF], namely;

“Any decision to sever the constitutional link between the UK and a Territory should be on the basis of the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territory. Where … it is the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people to pursue independence, the UK Government will meet its obligations to help the Territory to achieve it.”

Full Remarks in 2012 White Paper

The section of the 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories [PDF] which references the Territories’ constitutions and independence states said, “We have reviewed the constitutional status of the Territories.

“Each Territory has its own unique constitution. The previous government launched in 1999 a process of modernising the constitutions of the inhabited Territories. We are continuing this work with a view to equipping each Territory with a modern constitution.

“We expect these constitutions to continue to evolve and to require adjustment in the light of circumstances. But we believe that the fundamental structure of our constitutional relationships is the right one: powers are devolved to the elected governments of the Territories to the maximum extent possible consistent with the UK retaining those powers necessary to discharge its sovereign responsibilities.

“We believe that at this point in the history of our relationships with the Territories, when a decade of constitutional revision is coming to a close, the time is not right to embark on a further round of constitutional change. Rather our strategy is to ensure the constitutional arrangements work effectively to promote the best interests of the Territories and of the UK.

“The Government recognises that it is important to continue to reflect on the constitutional relationship. We will ensure that a dialogue on these issues is sustained with all those Territories which wish to engage.

“The Government maintains the UK’s long-standing position on independence for the Territories. Any decision to sever the constitutional link between the UK and a Territory should be on the basis of the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people of the Territory.

“Where independence is an option and it is the clear and constitutionally expressed wish of the people to pursue independence, the UK Government will meet its obligations to help the Territory to achieve it.”

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Comments (22)

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  1. Jus' Askin' says:

    We are not Independent? :-D :-D :-D

  2. Silence Do Good says:

    Put it to the people in a referendum as per the rules of establishing independence.

    But before you do there will be questions to answer. i.e. Will mortgages be in BDA or US dollars? How will the BDA dollar be affected? example: The Jamaican dollar after their independence?

    I am sure others will have others questions. After all we know where we stand now.

    • Question says:

      Like the Scottish referendum. All residents aged over 15 should be able to vote.
      Independence is irreversible, so it should take a supermajority, two thirds, for a yes vote to be effective.

      • shrew says:

        correct. AND all residents should be able to decide whether they wish to become a new Bda citizen or not.

    • free loader juice says:

      Will de real Bermudians living in de UK on welfare get to vote?

  3. Andrew says:

    Scary stuff.

    I really would love to know what benefits they think independence will afford us.

    What are the positive results of independence that they are thinking of?
    I don’t know if i have ever heard anything other than pride in ones country!

    The UK is holding us back from something? Getting involved in our affairs too much? Please.

    • Legalgal says:

      Expect the 2020 issue has brought it to the fore. And that is actually an important constitutional point irrespective of your political party.

    • Kathy Cervino says:

      Yes, haven’t you been reading? The UK is requiring us to open up all our books of record showing private ownership to the world in all companies in Bermuda. This is NOT something Bermuda should be prepared to do under any circumstance and would be reason enough to become independent. The USA is not complying so why should we be forced into it by our “landlords”?

  4. swing voter says:

    LoL its like telling my child “if you don’t like my rules, pack your bags get out of MY HOUSE!”

  5. facts of the rock says:

    Forget Burt and plp/biu,it’s never going to happen.


    Any Bermuda Government of the day must first develop deep and tremendous trust amongst the electorate before even getting close to making this a live platform.

    All Bermuda Governments to date have failed to do so.

    With great power comes great responsibility.

    If that is the next unfinished chapter for Bermuda–then there is alot of work to do by all concerned to get us even close to having an intelligent non-emotive balanced discussion.

  7. Stand For Truth says:

    British Overseas Territories is a dressed up title so it can be acceptable to the masses instead of the words colonized nations given to non-European countries. This is their agenda from the beginning of times is to maintain, control and dictate this

  8. History says:

    Our government should read and analyse the history of independence throughout the West Indies. I for one am not in favour of our West Indies style government imposing West Indies style independence on our community. Basing independence for Bermuda on Colonial interference is farcical to say the least. The UK does nothing to interfere with the daily running of Bermuda and to use it as an excuse flies in the face of all logic and opportunity for Bermudians. Get over it government.

  9. rodney smith says:

    Independence is the last step in a 400 year journey . The arguments against it are primarily economic . This was the same argument put forward about emancipation. White’s felt to give up their slaves would incurred a heavy economic burden . And to address this concern , the British Government put up 20 million lbs . Bermuda must mature and feel within itself that it can go on with England holding our hand . England is a safety net , but for whom ???

    • Question says:

      What are the arguments for it then , rodney?

      • Politricks says:

        He has been asked that a few times on various sites and has yet to respond with one advantage for going independent. Instead he deflects with references to slavery as a means to avoid having to answer the question.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        I’m pretty sure he’s already alluded to it being emotional as some people would be ‘happy’ or some other nonsense like that .

    • smh says:

      “England is a safety net , but for whom ???”

      For the hundreds of Bermudians, living off the UK and being protected by UK, for crimes they’ve committed in Bermuda.
      How many of your family are there, Rodney?

  10. Common Sense says:

    A previous Premier of the PLP was surprised that it was the young people who were the most against Independence. The answer is/was simple!They have the most to lose

  11. The Original Truth™ says:

    Funny how PLP is using this to claim colonialist conspiracies. UK is past that & they just want to know what shell companies are registered in Bermuda & used to hide income. If income is made in the UK it supposed to be taxed there. What good does this money invested in Bermuda or the shell companies do? What good does it do protecting them? They don’t give more jobs to Bermudians. They don’t spend the money in Bermuda. It just sits in there accounts making a few individuals wealthy of interests gained. This is at the heart of how colonialism in Bermuda was started in the first place as a corporate colony. Why is PLP against trying to stop these practices & help UK’s democratic process of fair taxation across the board?

  12. TGAOTU says:

    Burt needs to be removed from his position before he destroys this whole island and the future of all our children. This man is dangerous and so is anyone else who wants to push independence on us. The want for independence only resides in racist and racially-charged minds, there is no reason for it otherwise.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *The want for independence only resides in racist and racially-charged minds, there is no reason for it otherwise.*

      The other day I posted a remark that challenged all the supporters of independence to refute my claim that it was the final and ultimate poke in the eye for all those (adjective censored) perceived colonialist descendants, nothing more and nothing less.

      Not a single person has responded yet . And nor will they because there is still no sensible and beneficial reason to do it.