Jamaica concerned

HOLNESS… the Government of Jamaica is actively monitoring and assessing the evolving global environment

THE Jamaican Government and the Opposition yesterday added their voice to the shell-shocked reactions from around the world to the massive blow dealt to the European Union (EU) on Thursday after the United Kingdom (UK) voted in a referendum to give up its membership in the bloc of countries.

The 52 to 48 per cent vote, which saw a turnout out 30 million Britons, took place amidst fears that the move could be economically devastating for Europe and Britain itself, which has been a part of the EU for 43 years.

Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith said yesterday tha,t notwithstanding the close margin: “Ultimately, the people have spoken and, on the basis of the declared results, those in support of the UK’s withdrawal of its membership from the EU have carried the day.”

She said, however, that the outcome will have significant implications for Jamaica-UK relations and possibly for Jamaica-EU relations, noting that the vote to leave the EU “means that the UK will eventually cease to be part of the relevant arrangements that govern Jamaica-EU relations, including the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that there is no doubt that Britain’s exit from the EU will have implications for Jamaica on a number of levels. “The Government of Jamaica is actively monitoring and assessing the evolving global environment to position our country to advantageously manage these developments.”

Even while the EU and the rest of the world tried to come to grips with the results of Brexit, British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was strongly against exiting the EU, yesterday gave warning that he would be stepping aside to make way for the transition. Cameron, who addressed the Jamaican Parliament just under a year ago, had warned that Brexit would hurt Britain.

Cameron, who spoke from from 10 Downing Street, said that he would be leaving his successor to negotiate the terms of Britain’s exit from the 28-member bloc.

The UK still has another two years to work out the formal severing of ties with the EU, as provided for under the Lisbon Treaty. The European Union — often known as the EU — is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries.

“This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required,” Cameron stated.

“I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union, and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone — not the future of any single politician, including myself. But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path and, as such, I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” he added.

Cameron said a new prime minister should be instated in time for the Conservative party conference in October.

According to

The Guardian newspaper, several of the EU’s top leaders have already lashed out at the decision to leave, saying that Britain should act on its vote to leave the union “as soon as possible”, and that there will be no renegotiation of its membership.

According to the UK publication, the presidents of the European council, commission and parliament — Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz respectively — as well as the prime minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte have all said any delay to Britain’s exit would “unnecessarily prolong uncertainty”, and in a joint statement said: “This is an unprecedented situation, but we are united in our response.”

It is not known at this point precisely how the dynamics of trade arrangements such as the EPA as well as other agreements that Jamaica has with the EU will be impacted by Britain’s new status.

Opposition spokesperson Dr Morais Guy said yesterday that Jamaicans in Britain will undoubtedly be impacted by the exit and said the Opposition was also “immediately concerned”.

Already there has been an impact among investors across the world with the pound sterling dropping to its lowest level in three decades. Dr Guy said this early sign of a weakened pound sterling could also have some economic implications for Jamaica.

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