BVI London Office Director and United Kingdom (UK) Representative Mr. Benito Wheatley was unanimously elected Chairman of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (UKOTA) on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands on January 25.
As Chairman of UKOTA, Mr. Wheatley will lead UKOTA’s collective efforts to defend and advance the interest of the Overseas Territories in the UK for the next 12 months.
“It is an honour to have the full confidence of my colleagues to lead the work of our association as Chairman. UKOTA gives each Territory a greater voice than it would on its own. As Chairman I look forward to engaging the UK Government, UK Parliament, Commonwealth and other stakeholders on matters of interest and concern to the Overseas Territories,” Mr. Wheatley said.
The new UKOTA Chairman attended the inaugural meeting of Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for 2016 in the UK Parliament, also on 25 January.
Following remarks by guest speaker Fabian Hamilton MP, Labour Party Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wheatley said to the grouping of parliamentarians, “UKOTA welcomes Labour’s expressed commitment to the self-determination of the people of the Overseas Territories and parliamentary support. The UK parliament as a whole across political parties has an important role to play in supporting the self-determination, security and socio-economic development of all of the Overseas Territories and we look forward to sustained engagement in the year ahead.”
Mr. Wheatley’s Chairmanship also confers on Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, the Presidency of the UKOTA Political Council.
As President, Premier Smith will have the responsibility of chairing the council’s annual meeting of Political Leaders in London later this year ahead of the annual Joint Ministerial Council between the Overseas Territories and UK.
Speaking on the BVI’s new leadership role in UKOTA, Premier Smith said that the BVI is well-positioned to make a positive contribution. He expressed full confidence in Mr. Wheatley who has done an excellent job as the Territory’s UK Representative, and who as Chairman, will bring his energy and fervour to UKOTA which will benefit the BVI and the other Overseas Territories.
The Honourable Premier added that Mr. Wheatley’s work will directly contribute to preparations for the UKOTA Political Council of OT Leaders in late 2016 which he look forwards to chairing.
Mr. Benito Wheatley has served as BVI London Office Director and UK and EU Representative since October 1, 2014. He previously served as Deputy Director. He holds a Master of Science degree in Strategy and International Diplomacy from the London School of Economics and is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
UKOTA was established in 1994 and its members include Ascension, Anguilla, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman, Falklands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos.