Councillors Laura Shearer and Kyla Benjamin return from the Joint Ministerial Council
27 November 2023
Ascension Island Government, Press Release
Councillors Laura Shearer and Kyla Benjamin successfully represented Ascension at the Overseas Territories’ Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) in London. The JMC, hosted by the UK Government, is a pivotal event that brings together elected leaders and representatives from the UK’s Overseas Territories along with UK Government Ministers. It serves as a crucial platform for consultation, strengthening the ties between the UK and its Overseas Territories.
Councillors Shearer and Benjamin had various official engagements and meetings, advocating for the interests of the island and contributing to the broader discussions that shape the relationship between the Overseas Territories and the UK.
Councillor Laura Shearer noted: “This JMC was focussed around agreeing on a Joint Declaration between the UK Government and UK Overseas Territories. This Declaration will form the basis of a modern partnership between Ascension and the UK.
We had a bilateral meeting with Minister Rutley, the UK Minister for the Overseas Territories. We discussed issues affecting Ascension and explained how our unique island operates. We also met with the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron, on his first day in the role.
HM King Charles III invited OT leaders and Governors to Buckingham Palace for an evening reception. I was blown away by his breadth of knowledge about the Overseas Territories- he personally approves every stamp and coin which the UKOTs issue! We also had a lengthy conversation about Ascension’s Marine Protected Area and recent works to understand the full life-cycle of our wildlife through satellite tracking of sharks, turtles and seabirds. He is very grateful for the contribution of the Ascension MPA towards global marine conservation.
I would like to thank everyone who facilitated the meetings and surrounding events while we were in the UK. It was a fantastic opportunity to ensure that Ascension has a voice in these important discussions.”
Councillor Kyla Benjamin also shared her thoughts: “It was an honour to represent Ascension Island at this year’s JMC, especially as this was my first time becoming a member of the Island council. The meetings held, were very interesting and busy but informative. The main priority of this JMC were to gather thoughts and views to finalise a Joint Declaration between the governments of the UK and the Overseas Territories. This Declaration, when approved by all the UK Overseas Territories will be the foundation on which to build a modern partnership for a stronger British Family.
It was a proud moment for me being the youngest council member, to have the opportunity to meet the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron, and Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Overseas Territories, Stephan Doughty MP. Also, to have an opportunity to meet with UK Minister for Overseas Territories, Minister David Rutley for a bilateral discussion about the current concerns and future plans for the Island.
We also had the pleasure to meet with the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee along with other Overseas Territories Leaders to discuss their ongoing inquiry into the status of the Overseas Territories in the 21st century.
I’m thankful to everyone who helped assist me during my time in the UK, especially thankful to Councillor Shearer for guiding me and making my first JMC a memorable one. Also grateful to all who facilitated the meetings and events.”