Tristan helps shape new Political Declaration
Report and photos from Tristan UK Government Representative Chris Carnegy
14th November 2023 saw Tristan da Cunha take a leading role in shaping the future relationship between the UK and the Overseas Territories.
Chris Carnegy (second right) with Governor Nigel Phillips (centre) and fellow delegates
from the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
The Joint Ministerial Council in London focused on negotiating a new Political Declaration, intended to set the tone for the future relationship between the OTs and the UK. It was gratifying to hear officials acknowledge the substantial input Tristan had already had into the Declaration, and to be able to negotiate some further improvements on the spot. We are optimistic that the eventual Declaration will be good for Tristan da Cunha, and will recognise the Tristan jurisdiction in its own right. It’s hoped that it will be published at the end of the month.
Lord David Cameron, newly appointed as the UK’s Foreign Secretary, paid a brief visit. I was able to give him greetings from Tristan, and he spoke warmly about TdC’s participation in the Blue Belt.
Meetings with UK politicians herald start of JMC week.
The week that will bring the Joint Ministerial Council between the UK and the Overseas Territories got underway on 13th November with two key meetings with UK Politicians.
Via video link from Tristan, Chief Islander James Glass met the Overseas Territories Minister David Rutley. This ‘bilateral’ meeting brought an opportunity to raise key concerns around vessel access, renewable energy and budget pressures.
There was a remarkable video link meeting held on 13th November,
between UK Overseas Territories Minister David Rutley with St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Governor Nigel Phillips in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in Whitehall and Tristan da Cunha Chief Islander James Glass with Adminisrator Philip Kendall
in the Island’s Administration Building (sometimes also called ‘Whitehall’).
Chris Carnegy also met with Labour’s shadow Territories Minister Stephen Doughty.
In London Chris met Labour’s shadow Territories Minister Stephen Doughty, along with other OT heads of delegation. I stressed that any incoming government should uphold the UK’s treaty obligation to support the well-being and economic advancement of Territories like Tristan – including providing minimum acceptable levels of access. Mr Doughty took that point on board, and pledged a more collaborative relationship with OTs if Labour is elected.
Overseas Territory delegates met with Labour’s shadow Territories Minister Stephen Doughty and
with his defence colleague Luke Pollard as well as Chris Carnegy.
The meetings took place as former prime minister David Cameron was installed as the UK’s new foreign secretary. He is one of the creators of the ‘Blue Belt’ marine-conservation programme in which Tristan plays a major part.
A reception in the lavish Westminster home of the Institute of Civil Engineers provided a moment to celebrate two of Tristan’s expat legends. Tristan reception group met with UK Overseas Territories Minister David Rutley MP, Tristan da Cunha Association (TDCA) Treasurer and Membership Secretary Jim Kerr; TDCA Co-Chair John Cooper, Doctor Hilary Jones and Chris Carnegy.
The occasion marked the 14 November 2023 climax of the Joint Ministerial Council. I arranged for TV’s Doctor Hilary Jones, who served as medical officer on Tristan, to attend the event. Overseas Territories Minister David Rutley gave him a special mention in his speech, and also acknowledged Jim Kerr, on his retirement as Deputy UK Representative, for his extensive service to Tristan. There was warm applause for both.
Hilary Jones, British TVs most famous real-life doctor, has sent a warm and enthusiastic message to the people of Tristan da Cunha, where he served at the start of his career.
Dr Hilary was the lone Medical Officer on the island at the start of the 1980s. He recalls there were no deaths or births during his year-long posting, but plenty of day-to-day healthcare challenges and also some veterinary ones (including a struggle to put-down a dog that refused to die). He went on to star as ITV’s on-screen medical expert, and is the author of several books about health.
Attending an Overseas Territories reception in London, he kindly recorded a a message for islanders, describing the fun he experienced on Tristan and saying “I love you” and “I miss you”. His passion for Tristan shone through.
RSPB’s Andy Schofield presented Dr Hilary with his Tristan da Cunha tie. Dr H says he’ll wear it on ITV’s ‘Lorraine’ show soon!