PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson, in his Christmas message to Islanders, congratulates the Legislative Assembly on their achievements this year and assures, "that our support for your right to determine your own political status is not going to change."
A direct transcript of his speech follows:
Hello folks, this is Boris Johnson, speaking to you all from Downing Street and wishing all the people of the Falkland Islands a very happy Christmas. And there is much to be happy about.
For one thing, I understand you taught the world something of an ice hockey lesson at the Amerigol Latam Cup! That’s pretty amazing considering you don’t have an ice rink, so well done on that.
Closer to home, it’s been another great year on the demining front. I know they’re proving almost as hard to get rid of as the Bleaker Island rats but I believe that by the end of 2020 the Falklands will officially be mine-free - a great achievement.
For the first time in almost 30 years you’ve got a new representative here in London, with Richard Hyslop taking over from the remarkable Sukey Cameron.
Our brand-spanking new Antarctic survey ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, was officially named and registered and now has the Falkland Islands’ flag fluttering proudly from her stern. I do still think it’s a shame she’s not called Boaty McBoatface, but I suppose that, even as Prime Minister, you can’t have everything.
We’ve seen all kinds of improvements and efficiencies in your fishing industry, and as custodians of the seas I’m sure you will continue to set the model for sustainable fisheries management.
And perhaps most important of all, 2019 saw the start of a second commercial flight to South America – a huge achievement for all involved, and the result of a mere 20 years of planning and negotiation. Which, believe me, is actually a pretty quick turnaround by the normal standards of politicians, so kudos to the legislative assembly for sorting that one.
Here in the UK I talk a great deal about how you can’t have widespread economic growth without connectivity between communities. That is every bit as true for Stanley as it is for Sunderland and I really do believe that the new link will unlock new opportunities for all islanders.
It will also make it that much easier for people of all nations to visit your very special corner of the world. To see for themselves the stunning landscapes. To experience first-hand your unique culture. And to maybe even crack open a bottle or two in Deano’s.
Not to mention, of course, taking a look at the wonderful wildlife.
I am told that something like a third of the world’s Rockhopper penguins are Falkland Islanders and, while I have not yet had the opportunity to ask them in person I am sure that, just like you, each and every one of them is proud to call themselves a part of the great British family as citizens of a British Overseas Territory.
And on that point let me reassure you that our support for your right to determine your own political status is not going to change.
Just a few years ago a whopping 99.8 per cent of you voted to remain as a British overseas territory, and if you have learned one thing from my time as Prime Minister it is surely that I am not in the business of ignoring referendum results.
But while that is not going to change, this year has shown, once again, that the people who call the Falklands home continue to evolve and adapt to better embrace the opportunities of a changing world. It’s just what you do, what you have always done ever since Captain Strong first waded ashore all those years ago.
So you can rest assured that, while you may be eight-thousand-and-something miles away, the Falkland Islands and their incredible people will be in my thoughts this Christmas, and throughout my time as Prime Minister. Have a great Christmas, and all the very best for the new year.