Britain is Back! - Cameron
"Britain is back in the Caribbean to bring an end to the benign neglect of the region."
This was the declaration of David Cameron, the United Kingdom (UK) prime minister in a brief exchange with The Gleaner and selected media entities yesterday.
With the issue of reparation not on the agenda of his administration, Cameron yesterday told The Gleaner that the £300 million fund being created to finance trade in the region is a down payment on the new relationship.
In the question-and-answer forum with two journalists from mainstream media, Cameron bluntly stated that: "I don't think that reparations are the right answer."
"We want to be your partners of choice and we are demonstrating with our climate funds (and) with this new infrastructure fund that the money is there to build your economies and your prosperity, and we can both benefit from that."
He stressed that he envisages a new and modern partnership with Jamaica and the region. "Its a relationship that is obviously based on our ties, history, language and culture," declared Cameron.
He added: "The ties between us are so great."
focus on common ties
Noting that 200,000 British reside in the Caribbean, Cameron listed democratic values, the rule of law, and sporting
affinity among the common features that tie UK and the region.
The Gleaner was one of two selected members of mainstream media in Jamaica to engage in a brief exchange with Cameron.
"All of these ties are strong, but it is my view that we are not doing nearly enough (to nurture the relationship)," he said.
When asked to state his position on reparation, Cameron said: "This is an important debate. My view is that as we look into all of the aspects of the past, not the least of which is the action that Britain took for many decades to wipe slavery off the high seas and the face of our planet."
Cameron stressed that the purpose of his visit to Jamaica had nothing to do with the reparation issue.
It was designed, he said, to look to the future. "We both want the same things - growth, jobs and prosperity - and we should be working together to deliver that," he stressed.
He said while Britain, Jamaica and the Caribbean enjoyed a very good relationship that had been underplayed and taken for granted.
"I am here to say no more of that and that's why this £300-million infrastructure fund that can help build vital infrastructure across the Caribbean, and this should form part of a new partnership between Britain and the Caribbean," he said.