Coronavirus: Fabian Picardo ‘Brexit has prepared us well’
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Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams said the UK Government had repeatedly made clear to the European Commission they were negotiating on behalf of the Overseas Territories, which includes Bermuda and Anguilla. With the exception of Gibraltar and the sovereign areas on Cyprus, the British Overseas Territories are not part of the EU and their combined population of approximately 250,000 was mostly unable to vote in the Brexit referendum.
However, those who are British citizens could travel freely in the bloc before the end of the transition period.
A recent white paper from the UK Government simply stated that the territories’ relationship with the EU “will also change”.
But the Selby MP said the EU “declined to engage” after repeated attempts were made during crunch negotiations between Michel Barnier and Lord Frost.
In response to a House of Commons question from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, he added: “The European Commission refused to negotiate a future relationship that included the Overseas Territories.
“We sought to change the Commission’s position, but the Commission declined to engage.”
Some territories, which are not part of the UK and are self-governing have remained cautious about Brexit due to the reliance on EU funds and subsidies.
The British Virgin Islands admitted they were anxious because EU development funds had not been fully replaced since the end of the transition period, with Premier Andrew Fahie admitting there were “unfortunate implications” associated with the UK leaving the EU.
But Mr Adams made clear that Britain remained “unwavering in our commitment to safeguarding the Overseas Territories’ interests.”
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He concluded: “We continue to work with all the Overseas Territories to take advantage of the opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation.”
The European Parliament has also irked London after MEPs voted to add UK overseas territories including the British Virgin Islands to its tax havens blacklist now the UK has left the EU.
The resolution, passed with a majority of 53, included measures calling for the automatic inclusion on the blacklist of countries with 0 per cent tax regimes.
The text of the vote mentioned the Brexit deal and suggested that the UK’s departure from the EU was based on “mutual values and geared towards common prosperity, which automatically excludes aggressive tax competition”.
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British Overseas Territory governments have also previously been slated by transparency campaigners over developing policies that encourage tax avoidance.
The 10 overseas territories excluding Gibraltar which is getting a separate Brexit treaty with the EU include Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and the Falkland Islands.
Also included in the list is Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands, St Helena and Ascension Island; Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
A Brussels source said there were “no plans” for British Overseas Territories to be part of the UK’s Brexit deal.
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