Op-ed from Baroness Sugg, Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on the Joint Ministerial Council 2020

The Overseas Territories are a much-cherished part of the British family. St Helena is no exception.

This is why, as the Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, I am pleased to chair the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC).

The JMC is an opportunity for leaders across the Overseas Territories to come together, including members of St Helena’s Executive Council. 

This year, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the council, to show the importance he puts on our relationship with the Overseas Territories.

At the JMC, we celebrate the special partnership between the UK and the Overseas Territories. It is an opportunity to set out the shared priorities and to have a dialogue on a number of diverse topics.

Over the years, we have forged modern partnerships, based on shared interests and values. This includes working together to deliver major projects such as St Helena Airport, allowing quicker and more frequent access to the Island for travel and medical emergencies. The UK Government remains committed to those partnerships, and to working with you and all Overseas Territories’ governments so that your communities flourish as modern, prosperous and strong democracies.

The UK Government takes its responsibilities towards the Overseas Territories extremely seriously. Whether that means defending you from threats, providing aid for essential services, helping you preserve your natural environment, or supporting you in times of crisis – as we have with COVID-19.

Right now we face huge global challenges, but we face them together.

This year, Coronavirus has impacted us all, especially where tourism is a key economic pillar or in communities which are already geographically isolated. I would like to congratulate the Government and the people of St Helena on your handling of the pandemic so far.

I am proud the UK has stood by you in providing essential support to your healthcare systems, by providing extra support and funding for COVID-19 preparedness. The challenges to border security and the economy are not to be underestimated, and I look forward to discussing how we can move forward on these issues together, with Councillor Derek Thomas at the Joint Ministerial Council.

We have also seen great successes this year. A UK-funded team has removed all landmines from the Falklands, meaning there are now no anti-personnel land mines anywhere on British soil. We announced a massive marine protection scheme around Tristan da Cunha. We are also pleased to be working with St Helena to provide tools to manage more effectively its marine protected area. 

This is why the Joint Ministerial Council has come at such an important time in our partnership. Now more than ever, we have important issues to discuss as we ensure that we work together in the best interests of the people of St Helena and all Overseas Territories.

Governor’s Office, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
25 November 2020

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