Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown *File photo
Shadow Education Minister Walton Brown *File photo

Bermuda should boycott a London summit meeting for UK Overseas Territories, an Opposition Minister said yesterday.

And shadow Education Minister Walton Brown called on all the Caribbean Overseas Territories to team up to oppose UK “sabre rattling” over tax regimes.

Mr Brown said Bermuda  should ensure the UK respects the constitutional rights of Bermuda and “the UK has no authority whatsoever to dictate to Bermuda on matters of financial and economic policy.”

He added the Caribbean Overseas Territories, “should act in unison in dealing with such matters.

“They would be stronger together in dealing with issues initiated by the United Kingdom. The past 10 years has really shown an increasing level of interference in our domestic affairs.”

But yesterday Premier Craig Cannonier said that the meeting was an opportunity to underline Bermuda’s position as a clean and well-run jurisdiction — and added Mr Brown was not aware of the negotiations going on behind the scenes aimed at protecting Bermuda’s position.

Mr Brown was speaking after UK newspaper reports revealed that Prime Minister David Cameron had called the leaders of the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, to a meeting in London to discuss tax systems.

Mr Brown said: “It’s entirely inappropriate for the UK to have summoned Bermuda, or any other territory, to the UK. It’s out of line.”

But Mr Brown said: “This particular initiative is really rooted in a level of hypocrisy. The implication is Bermuda is somehow acting in an inappropriate manner and needs to be held to account.”

But Mr Brown pointed out that Bermuda had signed a host of bi-lateral tax information exchange agreements with countries around the globe.

Mr Brown added: “We have passed the litmus test on many occasions. This is just an attempt by powerful countries to marginalize smaller, less powerful, territories. The sabre rattling is out of line.”

Mr Brown said that Mr Cameron had acted due to political pressure at home amid mounting concerns over the global economic crisis.

He added: “This approach is really to jettison the interests of the Overseas Territories for his own political set of concerns.”

Mr Cannonier said: “Everyone is going to have their own opinion — what Mr Brown is not aware of is the conversations I am having. He’s speaking from a superficial position.”

He added that he had already been in a two-hour conference call with leaders in the other affected territories.

And he added: “Maybe Mr Brown should give me a call and I’ll let him know some other things.” n