Talks of a possible UK takeover of the VI have been rife with a Commission of Inquiry being called in the Virgin Islands on the backdrop of the Global Britain agenda and the imperialist mentality of UK Prime Minister Alexander Boris Pfeffel Johnson, who has said colonialism in Africa should never have ended.
The CoI also comes at a time when the democratically elected government was making moves towards a new round of constitutional review and a more self-determined future.
Speaking under ‘Other Business’ at the continuation of the 11th Sitting of the 3rd Session of the 4th House of Assembly held virtually on September 9, 2021, Hon Flax-Charles admitted she has not spoken much about the CoI and that she doesn’t really intend to speak much about it either, “but everybody has been reading, seeing what has been going on, and we are in trying times…but we have to make sure we maintain and keep our BVI for us.”
According to her, the VI has worked too hard over the years through blood, sweat and tears and it cannot afford and will never give up what it has worked so hard for.
Once declared a bird sanctuary by the British, the Virgin Islands almost independently worked to become one of the more prosperous economies of the Caribbean region, thanks to financial services and tourism.
“Yes, there are things that we have to fix and they must be fixed, but we will never go down without fighting for this country. We need to be able to make our own decisions.”
Making the case that the VI continues to handle its own affairs even in these times of economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hon Flax-Charles highlighted the assistance being given to the territory of the US Virgin Islands by the Federal Government of the US.
She noted the some $21M given to the USVI to assist persons to pay their rent.
Additionally, the more than $515M given to the US Virgin Islands to assist with COVID relief was also highlighted.
The UK has refused to give any financial assistance to the VI during the pandemic, saying it had enough money to help itself.
It; however, sent AstraZeneca vaccines and some equipment to aid in the fight against COVID-19.
“And I want persons to really pay attention to that. I have nothing against the UK but compare what the USVI has gotten from their Federal counterparts and what we from the Virgin Islands have received from the UK.
“There is absolutely no comparison.”
Hon Flax-Charles said this should tell us that the VI has been managing its affairs without the UK all the time.
“We have been supporting ourselves. We meet bumps along the roadway, we make mistakes but we have been supporting ourselves here in these British Virgin Islands for decades and I think persons need to make that comparison.”
She said while persons have been shunning the notion of independence or self-determination, saying that the VI cannot support itself, the VI has actually been supporting itself all along.
“And we thank the UK for what they have been able to contribute, and maybe that is all they could contribute, looking at their circumstance, but we have to give our BVI a fighting chance to ensure what we the adults have worked so hard for over the decades does not disappear…
“We can agree to disagree [but] we have the same goals in mind and that is to make a better, more beautiful Virgin Islands,” Hon Flax-Charles stated.
When the Virgin Islands was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, many felt the UK would have played a significant part in helping to rebuild the territory.
Not surprising to many; however, the VI has been rebuilding on its own.
The UK only offered a loan guarantee while refusing to raise the borrowing ceiling in the Protocols for Effective Financial Management imposed by the UK after the hurricanes. This means that the VI would be unable to borrow significantly without violating the protocols.