Visiting members of the Falklands All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) reminded Falkland Islanders that they had huge champions in the UK Government and Royal Family during a recent press conference. However Tory James Sunderland MP admitted that “the level of knowledge amongst most MPs about the Overseas Territories is quite limited,” but this does nothing to affect the support for the Islands.
Regarding immediate action to help with the awareness of issues relating to the overseas territories among those who are less aware Sunderland MP said he was “hoping to put in for a backbench debate on the Overseas Territories perhaps even before Christmas,” to encourage discussion.
Stephen Doughty MP said that aside from the allies of the Falklands and Overseas Territories in the Members of Parliament, and specifically within the All-Party Parliamentary Group, “Mr. Speaker himself is a strong supporter of the OTs and has made real efforts bringing together representatives in London.”
Doughty, Labor MP, added he had personally been travelling to many of the British Overseas Territories to ensure his awareness of their matters, including Gibraltar, the British Virgin Islands and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. Doughty is shadow minister for Overseas Territories.
He said that he hoped that “becomes more of a regular pattern of activity and that issues are understood” between the Overseas Territory and the UK Government.
Warm welcome from Governor @GHFalklands and Chief Exec @GovSGSSI in Port Stanley. Meaningful discussions on future of #antarctic and @BritishOverseas Territories. A review by @FCDOGovUK is needed but no question on sovereignty! @AppgBritish @BFSouthAtlantic @FalklandsGov @GovBAT pic.twitter.com/LFr7rgKF5G— James Sunderland MP (@JamesSunderl) November 26, 2022
Mr. Sunderland added that he and other members of the APPG had met Her Royal Highness Princess Anne while on their trip, and that in conversation he was sure that “you’ve [the Falklands] got a huge champion there. “And the Royal Family in general are huge champions of the Overseas Territories. You’ve got some great people back in the UK who are a force for good.”
On the matter of the championing of the Falklands, Penguin News raised the fact that the majority of the Falklands APPG membership are Conservative MPs and Lords, and asked whether any reassurance was available that support of the Falklands was a cross-party issue.
Mr. Doughty reassured that “certainly in terms of the front bench of the Labour Party there is a very clear position from Keir Starmer, the leader; John Healey Shadow Defence; David Lammy,
my immediate boss, Shadow Foreign Secretary.”
Mr Doughty added: “I will certainly, and have been, encouraging more colleagues from my side to join the All Party Groups.”
He added that trips of other parliamentarian Groups are well balanced between parties and include matters related to the Falklands, and noted that “just because somebody’s not a listed member of an APG doesn’t mean that they’re not interested or won’t speak on issues.”
He added that Shadow Cabinet Members and other individuals with Ministerial or Shadow Ministerial positions may not be permitted to have roles in groups
Finally both MPs assured the Falkland Islanders s that there is a consolidated “cross party unity” regarding the Falklands. It was also reassured by Mr. Sunderland that the UK Government “respect your right to self determination” and that “sovereignty is very important” and “Islanders have every right to exist as they wish to do”