Wed | Dec 19, 2018

A.J. Nicholson | A nightmare starring Mr Holness

Published:Tuesday | May 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Senator A. J. Nicholson
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness speak during a bilateral meeting at 10 Downing Street, London, on April 17.
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A few weeks ago, I had a dream that began with Jamaica's prime minister, Andrew Holness, in the process of expressing profound gratitude to Britain's prime minister, Theresa May, in the following terms:

"We are more than pleased, Excellency, that your government has finally come to terms with the justice of seeking to regularise the citizenship situation of the people of the Windrush Generation."

Prime Minister May assured him that she welcomed the earnest show of appreciation and reminded that, speaking of justice, along with this business of citizenship-in-limbo and visa denial, he ought to bear in mind that the Privy Council, the court from which Jamaicans still chose to seek final justice, had been established almost two centuries ago by the British right there on United Kingdom soil.

Her government, she recounted, was responsible for the upkeep of that institution; Jamaica had no input in the selection of the judges who generally man that court, its registrar and other members of staff; and her government was solely responsible for the full remuneration of the judges who pronounce upon the justice that is sought by the citizens of Jamaica.

 

STRONG SUGGESTION

 

She then enquired of the Jamaican prime minister whether, appreciating what she had just outlined, he recalled that a former president of that court had made the not-so-subtle strong suggestion that Jamaicans should move to make full use of the final court - the Caribbean Court of Justice - that they had sensibly helped to create for themselves right there in the Caribbean, thereby allowing the British judges more judicial time to deal with matters concerning the affairs of their own kith and kin and others who reside within those borders.

Whereupon, Prime Minister Holness informed her that his Government intended to hold a referendum for the Jamaican people to decide whether they did not consider the urgings of the former president of the court to be quite out of place, and also whether we should not continue to have the price for our halting rush for the wind of justice met by the British taxpayer.

Just before I awakened from my dream relating to this shameful situation that lingers on the planet, Mrs May intoned: "Referendum, Prime Minister? Pardon me!

"But I seem to recall the Privy Council itself, upon a petition led by no less a litigant than the then leader of your own political party, advising that the proper procedure to be followed is a two-thirds majority vote in each House of the Jamaican Parliament. Are you not aware of my own party's ongoing hellish experience in the wake of the Brexit referendum vote? And, in any event, what is the logic and the wisdom of showing such disrespect for the ruling of your final court?"

After a prolonged pregnant silence, the British prime minister asked: "What, no reply, Mr Holness?"

- A.J. Nicholson is a former attorney general and minister of justice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.