By anguillian October 9, 2017 11:34



The United Kingdom Government responded to some criticism about its initial response to Anguilla in the wake of Hurricane Irma when the Foreign Secretary of State, Mr. Boris Johnson, visited the island as well as the British Virgin Islands to see and assess the damage done to the two Overseas Territories.

Speaking in an interview on Radio Anguilla on September 13, the Foreign Secretary, who was accompanied by Governor Tim Foy, OBE, and Chief Minister, Victor Banks, said in part: “My initial feelings were of absolute shock: trees just snapped, poles and the electricity just wacked; and so many homes with their roofs off. I had a great talk last night (September 12) with the Chief Minister and I can see that there is a plan to get this place back on its feet.

“The message I want to give everybody is that the UK is here to support you. We understand that this is absolutely a terrible time but it is very impressive to see the way this community is pulling together. Our Prime Minister has just, in the last ten minutes, announced another 25 million pounds for support and help for the Overseas Territories of the UK here in the Caribbean.” (That was in addition to 62 million pounds announced earlier for the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as Dominica).
Speaking specifically about aid for Anguilla, Mr. Johnson stated: “I came in on a huge UK plane and we had loads of water. I think this island is a most wonderful place, but the runway is too short. Talking to the Chief Minister I think the runway could be a great project…We have to think about ways of making investment in Anguilla. If you can get a great runway going, then you will have a chance of changing the economic prospects of the island. I think the job of the UK is to think in a smart way about how we can do long term things to make this island even more resilient.”
Mr. Johnson, who said “we came as fast as we can”, continued: “I have been talking not only to the Chief Minister but also to Tim Foy, our Governor here. What we need to do in the UK is to think much more intensely about a long term economic plan for the Overseas Territories – and Anguilla obviously is one of those. We listened to how to ensure that the people of Anguilla are helped to take advantage of their incredible opportunities, its amazing beauty, the tourist potential and financial services possibilities. There are all sorts of things that we could help to develop.
“What Tim and I would definitely say is that this hurricane gives us an opportunity now to intensify that relationship and to develop it in a way we think would be productive for both of us.”
The interviewer, Keithstone Greaves, asked Mr. Johnson: “Are you saying to the people of Anguilla that Britain, come high or low, is prepared to support the people of Anguilla in whatever way they need?”
“We appreciate that, obviously, we have a supportive role and the commitment is absolutely rock solid, “the senior UK official replied. “It is going to be that forever. I think what the hurricane shows is that now is an opportunity to do things in a more intensive and more active way. I think when it comes to ideas like a longer runway or port development, [electricity, athletic facilities, schools and the hospital] we will look at all of those. It is important for us to help the Anguillian people develop their economy and to realise the potential of this island.”

Urged by Mr. Greaves to re-emphasise the UK’s commitment to Anguilla, Mr. Johnson stated: “We are a thousand percent [determined] to show the people of Anguilla that we are committed to them. This is an Overseas Territory and these are British people. As far as we are concerned, this is a responsibility and obligation that we have. It is a balanced partnership and things have to move on.”
Before and since Mr. Johnson’s visit to Anguilla, British aid, in terms of building materials, other supplies, teams of Royal Engineers and work crews, has been despatched to the island to assist in the post Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. Massive transport aircraft and Royal Navy ships have been the main carriers of the supplies – landing at the Clayton Lloyd International Airport and arriving in the Road Bay Harbour respectively.

By anguillian October 9, 2017 11:34


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