Dancehall star Sean Paul backs calls to make Jamaica a republic and slams UK visa restrictions

Dancehall star Sean Paul has criticised the UK’s visa restrictions on Jamaican citizens after The Independent revealed that the British government is being lobbied to lift these curbs.

The chart-topping artist, 51, is also backing Jamaica’s bid to remove King Charles as the country’s head of state, citing UK immigration regulations as a key reason for this, he told Good Morning Britain on Friday.

“Every child got to grow up and be independent - and I think that country’s can be perceived in that same way,” the Kingston-born rapper, whose real name is Sean Henriques, told broadcaster Noel Phillips during the interview.

“We need to prove ourselves to be us, so salute to the great UK and I’m not saying ‘so long’, I’m just saying give us our chance to stand up and make you proud.”

Speaking to the visa issue and how it affects creative talent seeking to tour the Britain, Paul explained: “We are ‘Commonwealth’. A lot of times we get scrutinised. ‘Oh: red light, come to the back here’, ‘oh: Jamaican passport. Okay, cool, let me check you out more’.

“It’s unfortunate that has been that way for that long”.

This comes as a Jamaican state foreign affairs minister told this news platform that Jamaica is asking the British government to scrap visa restrictions for its citizens so they may freely travel to the UK.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent during his visit to London last month, Alando Terrelonge said the matter “remains an ongoing concern”.

Following 2003 sanctions, Jamaica remains the only country with the British monarch as head of state that requires visas to enter this country.

Andrew Holness told Prince William and Kate that Jamaica is “moving on” during the couple’s royal tour of the nation (Getty Images)
Andrew Holness told Prince William and Kate that Jamaica is “moving on” during the couple’s royal tour of the nation (Getty Images)

All Jamaican citizens are subject to the restrictions if they wish to enter the UK, including the King’s representative, Governor-General Allen, and the prime minister Andrew Holness.

“Given the historic ties between Jamaica and the UK, we believe it would be good for the visa restrictions to be lifted,” Mr Terrelonge said.

As a point of compromise, the state minister suggested that Britain should begin by lifting travel restrictions on Jamaican creatives, business owners and members of government.

Mr Terrelonge also said that nation is on track to remove Charles as its head of state by 2025, signalling the end to 350 years of colonial rule.

“We remain hopeful that by 2025 we would have completed those reforms and removed the British monarch as the head of our democracy,” he said, adding “notwithstanding it being a figurehead and that real power resides with the government of Jamaica and the people of Jamaica.”

“I’ve always maintained that we owe it to our ancestors who fought and died so that we could be free, we owe it to the framers of our constitution, the work done by our national heroes, for Jamaica to now walk as truly liberated and independent”.

The Jamaican government previously announced a Constitutional Reform Committee to help oversee the republic-forming process.

However, a member of committee, Hugh Small, recently told local press that the nation will not become a republic next year, saying that all the required processes would not be completed by then, and urged the government to “be frank” with people.

In 2022, The Independent first reported that Jamaica had long-begun the process of becoming a republic well before the nation’s prime minister announced the news.