By anguillian February 13, 2018 09:22



A casual cocktail reception was held at Government House in honor and recognition of Mrs. Blondel Cluff, Anguilla’s UK/EU Representative based in London.

In speaking at the modest gathering, His Excellency Mr. Tim Foy said: “ Blondel, tonight we welcome you back home. I want to sincerely thank you for the work you have being doing on the other side of the Atlantic in promoting Anguilla’s case. Congratulations once again on the recent appointment to your post as Commander of the British Empire (CBE).” He then invited the guests to join him in making her a hearty toast.
Mrs. Cluff made a brief response by saying: “ I want to thank you all very much. It is indeed an honor to serve Anguilla, and it’s an honor to work with all of you. You not only inspire us, but you make us proud of all that you are.”
The Hon. Chief Minister Banks then stated: “I am very happy to know that the Governor has put on this reception tonight in honor of Blondel. We have worked with her for almost two years now, and her contribution to Anguilla is really a labor of love. She has been so valuable in her efforts to get the best for Anguilla. She has been doing a remarkable job, and we are so pleased to have her with us. She not only works with us and supports us well when we go to the UK, but equally, the kind of documents and proposals that she puts together show that she is fighting our case and, due to her kind of work, Anguilla far outshines the other territories. So, welcome home, Blondel, and we are happy to have you at Government House.”
This is Mrs. Cluff’s first visit to Anguilla since Hurricane Irma. In an informal interview with the media, she said: “The reason why I am in Anguilla at this time is in order to progress with the UK support for the island after the hurricane, as well to deal with what could be effectively another form of hurricane, in terms of Brexit, which is coming on us very quickly.

“We have had a great deal of work to undertake recently, both in the United Kingdom and the European Union, on behalf of Anguilla. We have been very much in the frontline for negotiations with the United Kingdom government in order to secure support for reconstruction and resilience building.”

When asked if there is a possibility that Anguilla can stand to benefit from other UK contributions over and above the EC$200,000,000 already allotted, Mrs. Cluff answered: “Oh, I believe so. I think the test will be how we, as a nation, conduct ourselves with that package of £60,000,000. I believe that Anguilla is second to none in terms of the way in which it responded to the hurricane. The fact that everyone pulled together and we did not had to declare a state of emergency has distinguished us from many of the other islands in the region. We need to take that spirit and go forward and show the world tha t we are capable of working in a way that will build resilience and protect the interest of generations to come.”

When a comment was made concerning the Anguillian team which would be visiting London with regard to discussing the budget and the relief package, Mrs. Cluff responded: “That’s right. That is part and parcel of the process. You are dealing with £60,000,000 of UK tax-payers money. The people of Anguilla do not pay taxes into the United Kingdom, and so there will be an on-going necessary process of checks and balances. It is quite normal in the United Kingdom to ascertain that public money is used in a way that is totally transparent and gets to the areas of the community that really need it.”
Asked to comment on the national budget not yet being passed, Mrs. Cluff stated: “No, again we realize that we are living in extraordinary times. You have been hit by the worst hurricane on record, and you have also got the political hurricane of Brexit which is about to hit the United Kingdom. These are unprecedented times, and so we are going to have to work very closely together and make sure that we are diligent, and that we get true value for money in every penny that is spent out of that relief package.”
She was then asked what are the implications for Anguilla with regard to Brexit —as Britain leaves the EU. She was rather firm in her response, noting: “There are huge and direct consequences for Anguilla by virtue of Brexit. My team and I in London have been working from the day that the results of the referendum were announced to inform the Government of the United Kingdom that Anguilla has a direct border with metropolitan France (St. Martin). The only other overseas territory which has a direct border is Gibraltar which has a border with Spain.

“The difference is, however, Anguilla is much more dependent on its French and Dutch neighbors than Gibraltar, or even the United Kingdom itself is dependent on its French neighbors. Anguilla’s situation is unique in that it is not only a border state, but it is a dependent state located next to the EU (St. Martin). So measures have to be put in place to ensure that life does not deteriorate as a result of Brexit.”
Brexit! Mrs. Cluff refers to it as a political hurricane. It was on June 23, 2016 that the people of Britain, by vote in a landmark referendum, elected to leave the European Union. What impact Brexit will have on Britain’s overseas territories, and in particular the unique case of Anguilla, which shares borders with French St. Martin, is now left to be seen.

The Anguillian extends appreciation to Mrs. Cluff for her dedicated efforts in working to effectively represent Anguilla in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

By anguillian February 13, 2018 09:22


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