CARICOM Heads at the beginning of the meeting in Guyana

CARICOM Heads at the beginning of the meeting in Guyana

Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, has called for real leadership in the region following a vote by Britain to leave the European Union, commonly known as Brexit, after 43 years of membership.

Speaking at the 37th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Governments in Guyana on Monday, he said the world is still in a state of shock and the regional bloc must seriously consider its effect.

“This Conference gives us a wonderful opportunity to seriously consider the effect that Britain’s exit from the European Union will have on CARICOM, and to demonstrate real leadership by showing the way forward,” he stated.

He noted that at a time when the rest of the word was “moving towards regional integration in order to carve out an economic space in the global marketplace and to balance the might of the emerging superpowers, Britain has chosen to retreat to insular nationalism.”

“Already the political, economic and social fallout from this decision to go it alone is causing considerable concern within Britain, Europe and the rest of the world,” he stated.

He said the region has a long and deep relationship with Britain.

“Britain remains one of our most important trading partners, the largest source market for our primary industry, and a vital source of assistance on legal and financial matters,” Skerrit said.

He said CARICOM must respond urgently to the matter.

“So in my capacity as Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, I must make clear my position on the exit of the UK from the EU; and to suggest what CARICOM needs to do urgently in response to this seismic eruption in the European Union and the consequent inevitable shift in international relationships,” he remarked. “Let me begin by reminding us, especially the CARICOM skeptics, that the circumstances in the EU are completely different to those in CARICOM. There are two main reasons why the United Kingdom would want to leave the European Union at this point. The first is the historical fear of losing their sovereignty. From the British point of view nearly every nation in Europe has over the years, tried to conquer and rule Britain.”

He said the other reason why Britain opted to leave the EU was due to the fact that EU citizenship brings with it free movement and automatic access to welfare and other benefits.

“This created anxieties in Britain where the average English voter saw membership of the EU as opening the floodgates for countless Europeans and refugees from Syria, Iraq and wherever there is conflict, to pour into their country through any of the EU ports of entry. This is something which Britain, still hamstrung by austerity measures, could not afford indefinitely,” Skerrit stated.