The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Theresa May, on Tuesday, April 18th, shocked the political world by calling snap UK elections for June 8th, 2017.
The Prime Minister was at pains to mention in previous statements, when asked about an early election, that she was vehemently against such a move. However, today's u-turn by Prime Minister May has been explained by the PM as having come about due to what she terms as "political game-playing" from her opponents, whom, she says, are seeking to undermine the country in the upcoming BREXIT talks.
Reactions to PM May's announcement were fast and swift, with the pound sterling gaining ground as traders speculated that May's move was so constructed to bolster her hand in the BREXIT talks with the European Union, in favour of a more favourable deal being garnered for Britain in the expected two-year long BREXIT talks with the EU.
BREXIT is central to PM May calling these early elections; putting Labour and her opponents immediately on the back foot as they now rush to assemble an election strategy to either unseat May, or gain more seats in the UK's House of Commons.
As MNI Alive Media examines BREXIT, there is already an air of consternation amongst many of Britain's Overseas Territories, as regards what any BREXIT deal would mean for the future of the OTs. The OTs fear losing access to vital European markets that would negatively impact any trade arrangements now in place, and the prospects of future trade deals.
Additionally, the European Union, via its European Development Fund (EDF), has allocated the sum of 76.8 million Euros to the OTs, excluding Gibraltar. The European Development Fund is viewed as the main instrument by which European aid funds are distributed.
Considering Prime Minister May's decision to announce snap elections today, the fate of the Caribbean island of Montserrat has come into sharp focus of all the OTs under the spectrum of BREXIT's potential impact. On Montserrat, Premier Donaldson Romeo sits as the Leader of Government business, and as the Minister of Finance.
In what can be considered a rare appearance taking questions live on air, Premier Romeo, during a recent radio interview announced that the reason why the Montserrat's 2017/18 budget has been delayed was due to Ministers in the UK changing; the impact of BREXIT; and also because of changing citizen attitudes to The Department for International Development (DFID) in the United Kingdom.
Therefore, in light of the announcement by PM May this morning of snap UK elections, and considering the reasons given for Montserrat's 2017/18 budget delay by Premier Romeo, is it then conceivable to expect that the new budget will be further delayed for Montserrat if an agreement has not yet been struck between Montserrat's Minister of Finance, DFID and the UK Minister with responsibility for Montserrat's affairs?
It is more than expected that UK Ministers' focus would now be shifting towards their re-election campaigns, as opposed to signing off on any new funding and spending priorities for Montserrat and other OTs.
So if it remains true, the words in a statement from the Office of the Premier of Montserrat, dated April 6th, 2017 that mentioned; "...we have yet to receive any confirmation from DFID with regards to Montserrat’s Financial Aid Business Case as the Ministers for DFID have yet to complete their review." If this is still the case, then Premier Romeo, and DFID must soonest, let the people of Montserrat know if this review has in fact been completed towards budget approval forthcoming in the near future, or not.
If any affirmation cannot be shared with Montserrat's nervous public on whether funding priorities have been agreed, via a new budget with elections now taking centre-stage in the UK - then Montserrat's 2017/18 budget would more than likely be facing many more weeks of delay; quite possibly until after the UK elections have been completed and the shape of BREXIT talks, much less the new UK Government becomes apparent.
Premier Romeo must, as Leader of Government's business, seek to calm citizen's concerns by giving the people of Montserrat a further update as to where budget negotiations presently stand in light of Prime Minister Theresa May's snap elections announcement.