The impact of Brexit on the Falkland Islands and the economy in general were subjects raised with visiting Members of Parliament this week. The delegation of four made a flying visit to the Falkland Islands last weekend accompanied by FI Representative in London Sukey Cameron.
At a press conference on Monday Amanda Milling (Cons) emphasized that Brexit topics had been discussed at every meeting they had had since arrival.
Karin Smyth (Lab) said that all wasn’t yet clear in relation to Brexit. She cautioned, “we don’t know what we don’t know,” but assured that the Falklands was on the radar.
Wes Streeting (Lab) expressed confidence that FIG and the fishing industry were on top of the Brexit issues. And he felt Opposition MPs like himself could be keeping Government Ministers more on their toes. An example of this was the announcement by Michael Fallon a few months ago on local businesses having more opportunities with Ministry of Defense procurement deals.
The announcement was good news, but things could probably be speeded up, and he and colleagues should be pushing things along, he said.
He said he felt more could be done for the tourist industry by using the diplomatic muscle of the UK.
Ms. Milling said that she had been really struck by how thriving the economy was. And she was impressed that young people finished their education and returned to the Falklands; a very positive message.
All of the MPs expressed fascination with the Islands. They had had the opportunity to chat to FIGAS pilots, drivers, guides, office workers, business leaders, farmers and others. Dining with local families had allowed them to hear their views on a variety of issues including the Airbridge and Broadband.
They said they had been pleasantly surprised, not only with the beauty of the Islands, but by the vibrant economy.
Ms Smyth had been impressed by how the qualities of innovation and self-reliance allowed Islanders to make the most of what opportunities came their way.
Ms Milling suggested that, as the Falklands had such strong links with the UK, the MPs
must continue using the domestic and foreign policies to assist the continued development of the economy and infrastructure, and develop growing sectors such as
Mr. Streeting pointed out that Opposition MPs had a role to play in keeping Government Ministers on their toes. For example, he thought Defense Minister, Michael Fallon, had made a welcome announcement a few months ago about the MOD procurement in the Islands, but progress needed to speed up. MPs could help push things along.
I think more could be done by using our diplomatic muscle to open up tourism, for example, he said adding that support for the oil and gas industries: the UK government could not be allowed “to drag its heels”.
Mr. Streeting urged Islanders not to underestimate the strong public support for the Falklands in the UK. He emphasized that they, as MPs, would never concede on self-determination.
Alan Mak (Cons) explained that he represented the constituency of Havant, which had strong Naval connections, and many of his constituents had been involved in the 1982 War. He was also based close to the colleges in the south of England where many Falklands students continue their education.
He said he was a strong supporter of self-determination for the Islanders, and the visit had helped him understand the challenges the Falklands faced. (Penguin News)