Caribbean Overseas Territories: concerns about possibility of independent Scotland

An article in the BVI Beacon looks at the implications of the upcoming Scottish independence referendum for the British Virgin Islands:

“On Sept. 18, the people of Scotland will vote on whether or not to declare independence and sever their country’s 307-year-old union with England.

The ripple effects of their decision could reach these shores.”

“Besides potentially fuelling discussions about an independent Virgin Islands, Scottish independence would shrink the United Kingdom’s population by about eight percent, likely decreasing the global influence the UK wields on behalf of its overseas territories and other Commonwealth countries.”

The article also cites a column in the Jamaica Observer by a former diplomat who looks at the consequences for the Caribbean. The fall in the UK’s GDP “… would call into question Britain’s pre-eminent position in the UN Security Council, the IMF and World Bank, and even organisations such as the Commonwealth and the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development”.

The Observer column concludes:

“There would also be no benefit in the Balkanisation of the UK for countries in the Caribbean who have relied on an influential Britain to advocate their causes in the European Union. The Caribbean should care if Scotland votes for independence.”

Meanwhile, 70% of respondents to an online poll by the Bermuda Royal Gazette answer “no” to the question “Should Bermuda hold a referendum on independence?” out of a total 1623 votes.

This white paper (pdf) from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has more detail on the current relationship between the UK and its Overseas Territories. It notes that “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.”

Lastly, the Financial Secrecy Index shows that if Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are taken into account, the UK and its satellites would be the world’s largest secrecy jurisdiction, comfortably beating Switzerland which is currently ranked at number one.

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