BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, June 27, (CMC) – The Vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Sir Hilary Beckles, says the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should use Britain’s vote to exit from the European Union “to deepen and strengthen its internal operations and external relations with the wider world”.
“It’s a moment for CARICOM to come closer together rather than drift apart,” he added.
“The region should not be seen as mirroring this mentality of cultural and political insularity, but should reaffirm the importance of regionalism within the global context for the future,” Sir Hilary said.
In a statement, Sir Hilary warned that every aspect of Caribbean life will be adversely affected by the development, “from trade relations to immigration, tourism to financial relations, and cultural engagements to foreign policy”.
Briton last week voted by a 52-48 margin to quit the 43-year old EU, a situation that has led to the resignation of British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said he will be stepping down in October.
Caribbean leaders are still assessing the implication of the vote, noting that it is too early to say what impact it would have on their countries.
But Sir Hilary, a prominent academic and historian, said there will be a significant redefinition and reshaping of CARICOM-UK engagements.
“The region’s fragile economic recovery is threatened,” he said, in the statement, titled This UK Development Should Not Be Taken Lightly.
He said the university is planning a symposium to discuss the implications for the Caribbean, adding “reaching the limits of emotional despair over how to manage its post-imperial, ethnic nationalism and challenged to participate in the global world as an equal partner, the English have retreated to their traditional identity base at the expense of every other consideration.
“It has taken this strategic step in order to go forward as old England versus the world. This is a desperate attempt to reinvent a still idealised past, in which ‘Englishness’ is celebrated as a distinct standard not to be entangled or diminished by deep association,” Sir Hilary said.
He said the “predictable, highly individualistic action poses both a short-term, as well as a long term, threat to the performance of CARICOM economies, and should trigger immediate strategic regional reactions, even before Heads meet in Guyana next week”.