Instigate the nation until we remedy the injustices of society.
Motivate our people to set a meaningful path for the coming generations.
Educate our people to free our minds and develop an Africentric consciousness.
Published by Chedmond Browne, P.O. Box 197, Plymouth, Montserrat Phone: 809-491-6962 FAX: 809-491-6335
CHEDMOND BROWNE'S TAPED INTERVIEW
With Keithstone Greaves for the BBC. July 25th,2001
KG: I'm talking to Chedmond Browne, MP in the Montserrat Legislative Council. Cheddie, tell me a bit about this British Overseas Territories Bill that is now before the British Parliament. You seem to have some areas of concern as it relates to this particular bill and Montserrat.
CB Yes. The British Overseas Territories Bill has been in the making for quite some time. In 1999, the British Government issued a white paper that in fact stated specifically that at some specific point in time, it would grant, not grant, but I choose to use the term, impose because it is going to pass a law in Parliament making all natives or nationals of the remaining territories, citizens of Britain and this has now come to pass. The bill has now been tabled in Parliament. It has now has its second reading in Parliament and it is just a matter of time now before the Secretary of State declares that the law has been passed and all nationals of the remaining territories are British citizens and I do have a lot of concerns about the issue.
KG What are your specific concerns? Now you are speaking on this matter as an MP in the Montserrat Legislative Council and as you clearly pointed out before the start of this interview, not, and I repeat, not as a spokesman of the ruling NPLM Party.
CB Yes, I cannot claim to represent Government's position but, I, as a member of Government and an elected official of this country, I feel I have the right to state my position and concerns. And one of my basic concerns about this citizenship bill is, for me, while it appears to be a positive move and a move in the best interest of the colonies at the lowest level, at the highest levels, to me, it is an act that is a blatant attempt to circumvent the UN mandate on decolonization and to use this false creation of citizenship as a means to impress upon the UN and the international bodies that the remaining dependent territories are no longer colonies because they have now been integrated and granted full citizenship into the British empire. And for me, at that level, we need to understand that this is where for me the major concern comes.
KG So what you are saying, this British Overseas Territories Bill that is before the UK Parliament will in some way put, through off course, for want of a better term, the moves or the thrust toward self-determination, eventually independence, that sort of thing?
CB Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I am saying right now that the white paper was written on a foundation of partnership. Now, partnership can be replaced by the term, free association. If we agree to a partnership with Britain, we are in fact expressing, supposedly expressing our right to self-determination through free association. So the partnership in the connection with the citizenship, can also be also be used by the British Government to say that we have freely chosen to associate with them by accepting their imposition. So, this in itself allows them to argue, legally argue at the United Nations level that we are no longer a colony. And if we are no longer a colony, our pursuit of self-determination through the UN protocols will no longer be available to us. And I am saying that in order for them to be transparent, the British Government, the British Parliament, should document specifically that this citizenship bill will not, will not detract, or derail or stop the remaining dependent territories and especially the island and the colony of Montserrat from continuing to pursue its right to be a self-determined people and country. We should insist that they give us proper documentation, specifically written that states clearly that this integration through the offer of citizenship will not in any way, form or fashion stop us when we so desire to break the partnership, so to speak and to take ourselves out of the British clutches and establish ourselves as an independent nation.
KG How much discussion, if there have been any, has there been on this particular bill in the local Parliament and among the local populace?
CB There has been none; just rumors and gossip, and just individual people going about pushing it as an extremely positive thing because a lot of people believe, which I feel is a false belief also, that number one they are going to get a European passport, which in, the Bill says Dependent Territories Citizenship Bill. So what we are going to get is a clause that says that dependent territories are now citizens of Britain, oh yes, the Overseas Territories. So in the passport, it’s going to say an Overseas Territories Citizen, in the first instance; that is what it’s going to say. In the second instance, we are not going to get European Union passports. In the third instance, we are not going to have free access to the United States. And these are the things that are being pushed at the street level at the mass level by people who know that they can benefit from getting this passport.
KG: As far as it relates to your Party, has this come up in anyway as a Party debate topic or within the ranks of the Party to look specifically and educate the public on this particular bill?
CB: It has been discussed briefly on one occasion that I can remember and basically the consensus from them is that they have not looked beyond the fact that there is a personal benefit to be had … From their perspective, there is a personal benefit to be had from holding a British passport. They have not gone beyond that. So to say that there’s been any in depth discussion on the issue, I can’t say yes. I can say there has been discussion on the issue over the argument of the fact that many of them feel that holding a British passport is of intrinsic benefit to them.
KG: Would you say that with you coming out and going public on this particular bill, the British Overseas Territories Bill is in anyway saying that you’ve lost faith in your Party structure? You taking a particular stance on this, is this a sign or a signal that you are in anyway going against maybe the Party line or anything of that sort?
CB: No, I wouldn’t look at it like that. I mean, I’ve been active in the politics of this country for 30 years and my position has been consistent. My foundation is based on self-determination. I entered the Party on a foundation of the need to continue the educational process for an eventual self-determination issue. So what I am doing, or what I am speaking on is tied still to that same issue. We have self-determination in our Manifesto and I presume that it is my task as the person who has singularly promoted it over the years to continue to promote it. And anything that I see that is going to detract from that thrust, I feel I have a right to speak on the issue.
KG: So would you say your position is clearly understood or your position is well known by the other members of your Party?
CB: Yes, I would say that it is clearly understood. I am not saying that they are going to agree. But I would say that they clearly understand my direction. I have been consistent and I continue to be consistent.
KG: Mr. Browne, thank you very much.