Former Speaker of the House of Assembly (HoA) Mr Julian Willock has acknowledged that Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) has been trying his best at the helm of the territory; however, he has advised the territory’s leader to have the people more involved.
Mr Willock made the comment while a guest on the International Morning Braff Show on Tola Radio VI 100.5 FM on January 25, 2023.
At the time, persons calling in to the show were speculating about the United Kingdom’s interest in the marine environment, it’s holding up of marijuana legislation and the need for stronger diplomacy to ensure the VI’s best interest is served.
Premier Wheatley stated at a press conference on January 23, 2023, that he was very pleased to have a bilateral meeting with UK Minister for the Overseas Territories Lord Goldsmith and that he was appreciative of Lord Goldsmith’s “great interest” in the sustainable development of the VI.
Dr Smith also said Lord Goldsmith was “very keen” on tapping UK support
to assist the VI’s efforts to both conserve and sustainably use the
Former Speaker Mr Julian Willock, right,
on the International Morning Braff Show on Tola Radio VI 100.5 FM on
January 25, 2023. Left is host Floyd Burnett aka ‘Heritage’.
‘Premier has to bring the people along with him’- Willock
Mr Willock agreed with persons on the show that much care needed to be exercise in dealing with the UK and that the people must be informed every step of the way.
“I would say there is need for diplomacy at this time. And when diplomacy has failed and it has failed in many areas, we need to then look to our rights through the judicial system. We need to look at how we protect the BVI through other organisations, whether regional or international, but the Premier, to his credit, he has tried his best to do what he can.”
Mr Willock continued: “My only challenge with the Premier is that he has to bring the people along with him. Negotiation and diplomacy cannot only be him and his brother, he must bring other members of the House of Assembly and the people along with him, And when everybody is with him and understand the fight and the cry and what we are up against, I think all of us will succeed sooner or later.
UK has ‘years of experience’ in diplomacy
Willock said he agreed with contributor to the radio show, Julio S. Henry aka ‘Sam’ that diplomacy is necessary as the VI is up against the British who have years of experience in knowing how diplomacy works.
Mr Henry also said said the people must need to understand that it was not the local government but the UK who has caused the Virgin Islands
to fall behind other countries with implementing marijuana legislation. The House of Assembly has already passed legislation for the territory to tap into the revenue stream, but the Governor has refused to give assent.
Dr Wheatley had said he was “very pleased” that the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and UK Home Office had “very good discussions” with his delegation on medicinal cannabis, particularly with respect to the licencing of medical practitioners in the Virgin Islands
to administer medicinal cannabis to patients.
“We have found a way forward on this aspect of medicinal cannabis, and are proceeding to put the necessary regime in place for approvals. I am grateful to the UK Government for their support in this area,” Premier Wheatley stated.
But, according to Willock, his only issue is that the Premier “must negotiate with your people, you must inform your people what’s going on and negotiating cannot only be you and your brother.”
Who was part of VI delegation to UK?
Justifying his point, Mr Willock noted there was no other member of the House of Assembly as part of his delegation to the UK recently.
The delegation to the UK included Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs Carolyn E. Stoutt Igwe, Financial Secretary Mr Jeremiah G.A. Frett, Managing Director of BVI Financial Services Commission Mr Kenneth Baker, Executive Director of BVI Finance Ms Elise Donovan, Director of the International Tax Authority Ms La Toya James, Assistant Secretary for External Affairs Ms Dwynel Davies, Special Envoy of the Premier Mr E. Benito Wheatley, Director of the BVI London Office Ms Tracy Bradshaw, Deputy Director of the BVI London Office Ms Siobhan Flax, and Director of Policy and Research at BVI FSC Mr Cherno Jallow.
Premier Wheatley had also stated that Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Hon Melvin M. Turnbull (R2) and Education Minister Hon Sharie B. De Castro (AL) had participated virtually in discussions surrounding their portfolios.