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Peter Beckingham

Former governor in Turks and Caicos Islands

Part of UK in Grand Turk

22nd July 2016

24 hours of democracy in action and its impact on Turks and Caicos Islands and other Overseas Territories

I was delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to welcome to the Turks and  Caicos Islands on 20 and 21 July the Premiers, Chief Ministers and Ministers from no less than seven Overseas Territories: Anguilla,  Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Montserrat.  This is also a big honour for TCI, and a tribute to the work of many people here.  The Territory leaders were in TCI to prepare for their annual meeting with the FCO’s Minister for the Overseas Territories and her ministerial colleagues at the Joint Ministerial Council which will be held in London in October.

I was able to forward to TCI’s Premier Ewing on the first day of the meeting a letter from the new Minister for the Overseas Territories at the Foreign Office, Baroness Anelay. In addition to her existing responsibilities as Minister of State for relations with a range of international organisations, the Minister has taken on this additional role for working with the Territories and will chair the Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London.

I was able to talk informally with the Territory leaders about the wider changes which have taken place in the UK recently. The biggest development has been the vote in the referendum in favour of leaving the European Union, closely followed by the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Prime Minister has in turn made a number of major changes to our Cabinet, including a new Foreign Secretary (who I had the privilege of working with in India on two visits he made as Mayor of London) and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

It is too early to predict what these changes signify for Turks and Caicos and the other Territories, but Baroness Anelay was at pains in her letter to Premier Ewing to  underline the continued commitment of the UK Government to the Overseas Territories, as well as to involve them in the preparations for negotiations for the UK to leave the EU.

I was in London in July to attend meetings  with other Governors and Ambassadors in the Foreign Office shortly after the referendum. There is clearly going to be a major task for Ministers and officials to prepare the groundwork for the UK’s

 exit from the EU. But Cabinet Ministers, the Cabinet Secretary and officials all left no doubt that this was a challenge which can be met, and provides opportunities to raise the profile of the UK globally. They were also equally clear that the Territories and Crown Dependencies like Jersey and the Isle of Man will continue to be a part of the new structures of trade and services which emerge from international negotiations.

As I said to the visiting Territory leaders, the big changes in the governing party in the UK also demonstrated how efficiently and smoothly the democratic systems of government work in the UK, with one Prime Minister departing and another taking over in the space of less than 24 hours. It was, on any reckoning, an extraordinarily dramatic day in British politics, but accomplished in style and dignity.

With OT Leaders
With OT Leaders
Hosting OT leaders at the residence
Hosting OT leaders at the residence

About Peter Beckingham

Peter was the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands from 2013 to 2016. Before this, he was British Deputy High Commissioner to India, based in Mumbai, the commercial capital,…

Peter was the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands from
2013 to 2016. Before this, he was British Deputy High Commissioner to India, based in Mumbai, the commercial capital, where he had a responsibility for developing UK-India trade and investment. His earlier appointments have
included Consul-General and Director-General of Trade and Investment in
Sydney, and British Ambassador to the Philippines, where he initiated
the UK Government’s involvement in a peace process with the Philippine
Government and Muslim rebel groups.
Peter is married to Jill, a teacher of special needs, and they have
two grown up children. His outside interests include cricket, golf and