A Scottish Conservative MP has described a decision to leave UK citizens from British Overseas Territories out of plans to allow foreign nationals into the armed forces as a “missed opportunity”.
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie campaigned for those from the 14 BOT to be included in any plans to lift the five-year residency requirement to join the army, navy and air force.
The UK Government announced this week that the restriction is to end for those from Commonwealth countries in an effort to boost recruitment.
However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed today that the changes will not extend to those from BOT. Men from the Falkland Islands, Bermuda, Montserrat and the Virgin Islands all fought and died for Britain in the First World War.
Mr Bowie said: “I am bitterly disappointed to be told that the British Overseas Territories will not be included in the changes announced this week.
“As the UK prepares to leave the EU, we could have been forging stronger ties with these territories and showing that Britain is truly global.
“But this is a huge missed opportunity for the UK armed forces.
“It is also a decision that shows little regard for the sacrifices made by men from places like the Falkland Islands who fought and died for this country.
“The requirement to come and live in the UK for five years made little sense and it was right to lift it for Commonwealth citizens.
“But the MoD are missing a trick by closing the door to those from the British Overseas Territories. I will be raising this in parliament at the earliest opportunity.”
Notes to Editors
Andrew Bowie MP has campaigned with Luke Pollard MP on behalf of citizens from British Overseas Territories
The UK Government announcement on Commonwealth citizens