Cayman Islands Representative to the UK and the EU, Mr Eric Bush JP
Welcome to the second annual briefing from the Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom (CIGO-UK). Personally this marks the end of my second year in the post of the Cayman Islands Representative to the United Kingdom and Europe.
We have had a clear vision for CIGO-UK this year which has centred on promoting Cayman to a wider audience and developing our political engagement in quite turbulent political waters. Our efforts have gathered momentum with the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Cayman Islands Coat of Arms, around which we have developed events and plans for the coming year.
The celebrations began with a grand reception at the Durbar Court in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where over 500 people enjoyed a taste of Cayman inspired food, drink, culture, arts and crafts and music. Cayman Kind was on full display! We followed with a very special private lunch with 3-star Michelin Chef Clare Smyth MBE. We are looking forward to a series of events to celebrate Cayman’s Culture and heritage throughout the coming year. Britain, having chosen to leave the EU in 2016, has had a challenging period of negotiation which has, as of July 2018, resulted in the resignation of two key Cabinet Ministers from Her Majesty’s Government in the negotiations, Brexit Secretary David Davis MP and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. We are yet to see how this will all unfold and there are still many questions unanswered; throughout the year my approach in this area has been to work with my counterparts in the other British Overseas Territories (BOTs) to ensure that our voices are heard and specifically that interests of the Cayman Islands are considered during the negotiations between that UK and the EU. While we celebrate the Cayman Islands’ historic relationship with the UK, we are also experiencing tumultuous times, particularly in relation to the acceptance of an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Act, which looks to legislate directly for the Overseas Territories. This act of the UK Parliament is seen as political overreach and has put
some strain on how some Overseas Territories view their relationship with the UK. We have continued to enhance other relationships across our key audiences; political, social and commercial. From formal meetings with UK Ministers, MPs, and Peers to celebrating Cayman culture and heritage with the UK public, and ensuring our Caymanian students and diaspora are safe and making the most of their time whilst studying in the UK.
Every day is different and there is always much to do. It is my hope that this annual briefing will give you a glance of what the team is doing on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands to further strengthen the connections between the Cayman Islands and
the United Kingdom.
The role and objectives of the Cayman Islands Representative to the UK and EU would not be achievable without a great team, many of whom feature in the following articles. I want to thank each and every one who works for, or with, the CIGO-UK and who help us
to make our vision a reality.
So once again, it has been another rewarding year!
Best Wishes, Eric Bush JP
- Another Year on for the CIGO-UK
- Diamond Jubilee Coat of Arms Celebrations
- Political Engagement
- Conservative Party Conference
- Royal Relations
- Commonwealth Events
- Chief Whip Training
- GREAT FESTIVAL OF INNOVATION
- Events in Monaco
- CIGO-UK brand refresh
- The Nth Degree
- Private Lunch with World’s Best Chef, Clare Smyth MBE
- Cayman Islands Welsh Campaign
- Cayman Islands Cornish Campaign
- Friends of Cayman Dinner
- Cayman Connection UK
- Department of Tourism
- The West India Committee Project
- Celebration with Jennifer Dilbert MBE
The Year in Pictures
Another Year on for the CIGO-UK Team
Established in 1982, the CIGO-UK has worked to improve and strengthen the Cayman Islands’ position politically, economically, culturally and commercially within the United Kingdom and Europe.As part of the development strategy, in early 2016 the Deputy Governor, Hon. Franz Manderson MBE, JP appointed Mr. Eric Bush to the position of the Cayman Islands Representative to the United Kingdom and the European Union with immediate to plans broaden the connection between the Cayman Islands and the UK and EU, along with the following objectives to:
During the past 12 months, the Office has seen developments in areas of office structure which strengthen an already experienced team.
Members of the team are:
Assistant Representative, Consular Affairs
Assistant Representative, Culture, Social & Student Affairs
The boardroom and wider office space, facilities and resources are shared with the Cayman Islands Maritime Authority and the Department of Tourism, UK. We all work closely with each other and seek synergies whenever possible in relative mandates and responsibilities. The boardroom and other resources are available for use by Caymanian businesses while visiting or seeking to do business in the UK. Several individuals and businesses have hosted meetings or recruitment interviews and held other business related activities and events at the Office. The team are looking forward to what the new year has in store!
Diamond Jubilee Coat of Arms Celebrations
This year Cayman celebrates the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II granting the Islands their own Royal Coat of Arms on 14 May 1958.
This year Cayman celebrates the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II granting the Islands their own Royal Coat of Arms on 14 May 1958. In 2019 Cayman will also celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of being granted its first Constitution.
Both Diamond Jubilee anniversary events are milestones in the Cayman Islands’ relationship and continued close ties to Britain. The CIGO-UK held a major celebration on 14 May 2018 in the Durbar Court of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Over 500 people including heads of state and senior officials from the UK and other Overseas Territories attended. There was a large representation from the Cayman Islands, Friends of Cayman, Cayman students and businesses from the UK and internationally.
The Premier of the Cayman Islands the Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin MBE, MLA said “The granting of the Coat of Arms for the Cayman Islands and its people was a significant milestone in the history of the Cayman Islands. It signalled a new beginning as we chose to remain British, and was the first in a chain of events along our path to modernity.”
Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson offered his congratulations on the 60th anniversary of the Coat of Arms and underlined the point that the UK Government is still soundly supportive of the Cayman Islands and what they do and stand for. Thomas Woodcock, CVO DL FSA the Garter Principal King of Arms was then introduced and spoke about the Coat of Arms and the meaning behind each iconic symbol. He also talked about the history of the College of Heralds and its importance. The Heralds are appointed by the British Sovereign and are delegated authority to act on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry as well as the granting of new coats of arms. Garter King of Arms produced two facsimiles of the original warrant of the Coat of Arms which was destroyed in the Government Administration building fire in the 1970’s, one was on display and one will be returned to Cayman.
A short film telling the story behind the Coat of Arms was shown and it will be used in future as material for educational and information campaigns. The film includes new and archive footage to showcase the importance of the links between the Cayman Islands and the UK. The Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin MBE, MLA was the final speaker at the event, and said “We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the 60 years since her Majesty granted our Coat of Arms. We have worked hard over the past five years to strengthen the ties between our Governments and to seek to break down misunderstandings about the business we do in the Cayman Islands. Despite the recent and most unfortunate vote in the House of Commons, it was truly heartening for me to hear the Foreign Secretary underline the point that the United Kingdom Government is still supportive of the Cayman Islands. In any family, there are disagreements from time to time, however, tonight is an occasion to celebrate our connection and similarities rather than our differences. A celebration of all things Caymanian, our people, food, culture and music.”
Cayman inspired food and beverages were served to bring a real taste of Cayman to the reception. In addition to Cayman inspired canapés and food bowls including Cayman-style beef with rice and beans, Seven Fathoms and Tortuga rums and Caybrew beer as well as swanky were served as a welcome beverage to guests. Cayman culture was on display throughout the FCO and Durbar Court. A wall of photography showed guests of all aspects of life, culture, history and people from the Cayman Islands. In addition, photographs of key milestones from each decade starting in 1958 to 2018 were on display in a dedicated exhibition room to commemorate developments since the Coat of Arms was granted.
Curated by the Cayman Islands National Museum, the display afforded guests the opportunity to touch and feel a variety of Cayman arts and crafts, which also featured artefacts on the heads and arms of Caymanian ladies who wore traditional dresses complete with hats, bags and fans made from thatch. Samples of thatch rope were also on display.
The Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin MBE, MLA, the Speaker of the House, the Hon. McKeeva Bush, and the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Ezzard Miller put on a short and entertaining demonstration of laying thatch rope with masters of thatch rope making Billy Banker and Deal Ebanks overseeing the proceedings. Swanky Kitchen Band’s live performance of self-styled indigenous Caymanian music tracing its roots back to the British Isles, got guests dancing. There is no other Caribbean Island that features the fiddle as the centre of its traditional music genre and it is therefore uniquely Caymanian.
Speaking after the event, Alfonso Wright, Executive Chairman, of ‘Celebrate Cayman’ remarked, “tonight was a celebration of everything Caymanian, food, culture, music, people. I’m delighted we were able to bring so much to London to share our history and I’m looking forward to the events that will follow in the Cayman Islands which will bring everyone together as one in this exciting year-long celebration.”
Following a very successful start to the CIGO-UK Parliamentary engagement programme last year, the programme continued this year as the Representative and Deputy Representative met with MPs across the political spectrum to establish better relationships between The Cayman Islands Government and UK Parliamentarians.
In addition to fostering better relationships, another objective of these meetings is to create better channels of communication between various entities of the Cayman Islands Government and Westminster.
Ms Sheryll Murray MP is a Conservative MP from Cornwall who has some knowledge of the Cayman Islands and was excited to meet with Cayman Islands Government Representatives to learn more. Ms Murray was keen to know how she could help the Cayman Islands. This particular meeting was timely and relevant following the recent Cornish heritage programme instigated by Mr Bush a few months earlier. Mr Bush was able to inform Ms Murray of the deep heritage connection between the UK and the Cayman Islands and of his recent discovery of the connection specifically to Cornwall where it is now believed that the first settler might have departed from. Ms Murray remains a good Friend of the Cayman Islands and is also a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Cayman Islands. This meeting was an excellent example of positive ties between the Cayman Islands and members of Parliament. Mr Shailesh Vara MP, Conservative MP from North West Cambridgeshire was aware of the Cayman Islands and British ties to the country. He was willing to learn more and keen to visit. Mr Vara has since joined the APPG for the Cayman Islands. Mr Bush was able to talk frankly with Mr Vara regarding snap election and learn more about the state of the political landscape of the UK, as well as the EU, and the Brexit referendum. Following this meeting Mr Vara has demonstrated a keen desire to know more about the Cayman Islands and to stay in touch with the CIGO-UK. The meeting with Rt. Hon Dame Margaret Hodge MP gave Mr Bush and Mr Parchment the opportunity to try to explain the extent of Cayman’s compliance regime and to point to the many reasons why the Cayman Islands should not be considered as a jurisdiction where anyone would be able to hide ill-gotten gains. Mr Bush and Mr Parchment were able go into great detail with Ms Hodge regarding some of the many measures the Cayman Islands has taken to guard against secrecy that allows gains to be hidden in the Cayman Islands.
They explained that the Cayman Islands had many bilateral and multilateral inter-governmental agreements in place that closed any possible loopholes and prevented anyone or any company from taking advantage of its system to hide the source of their gains. Mr Bush and Mr Parchment explained about measures such as the KYC system that has been vigorously enforced for the past 20 plus years and explained that the registration system in the Cayman Islands currently is one of the most secure systems in the world, including those of the UK, US
and other leading onshore and offshore financial centres across the globe. They explained measures such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), agreements that the Cayman Islands has bilaterally with the US and UK.
They explained the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) agreements in reference to the recent scandals regarding Google and Apple shifting their profits to subsidiary companies based in low tax jurisdictions in the Netherlands and Luxembourg and pointed out that this could not happen in the Cayman Islands.
Rt. Hon Dame Margaret Hodge was open to further meetings as the two representatives stressed that it is important to keep channels of communication open. This led to a follow up meeting with Dame Margaret and the visiting Minister for Financial Services, the Hon Tara Rivers and members of her team. Following this meeting, one of the most significant meetings with MPs took place between the Representatives and the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, who helped to instigate strategic ideas to engage with the UK team at the Department of International Trade who were conducting the upcoming trade show in Hong Kong. The pitch was based on pointing to the historical assurances given to The Overseas Territories and reiterated in the 2012 White Paper which promised that the OTs would be adequately represented at home and abroad by Her Majesty’s Government in areas such as trade, security, etc, and, as the UK will now be developing a new trade relationship with the world; fulfilling this promise will have a newfound meaning for the Overseas Territories. The argument was also made pointing out that since the Cayman Islands possessed such a large footprint in the Hong Kong stock exchange with reciprocal company registrations, the UK would greatly benefit from including a delegation from the Cayman Islands in the UK’s team.
Following this important meeting, discussions began to gain momentum with regards to the Cayman Islands involvement within “The GREAT Festival of Innovation” in Hong Kong. The aim of the GREAT Festival was to enable the sharing of innovations that will drive the future of free trade between the UK and the region that will hopefully build long term trade agreements and partnerships. As such the Cayman Islands Government was able to justify its involvement with the UK team at this GREAT festival.
A meeting was also held with Helen Goodman MP, who has a similar outlook to Rt. Hon Dame Margaret Hodge with regards to BOTs with financial services. Mr Bush and Mr Parchment were able to have a meaningful conversation about the history of the Cayman Islands consumption based tax system, the Cayman Islands connection to the UK, and even have more of a dialogue on the compliance measures in the Cayman Islands and make the point that the Cayman Islands are usually among the first to adhere to any new stipulations or requirements that come in to promote global standards in order to maintain transparency in the financial services industry.