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As she leads Barbados towards republicanism, charismatic Prime Minister Mia Mottley talks to Gary Younge about shaking off its colonial past and rewriting the future in the September 2021 issue of British Vogue.

To hear her Caribbean lilt or witness her open, effortless, gap-toothed smile, you wouldn’t know it, but Mia Amor Mottley, the first female Prime Minister of Barbados, is a woman in a hurry.

“There’ve been seven prime ministers before me, and three have died in office,” says the 55-year-old with her trademark directness, the mid-morning sun peeking in through the slatted windows of her office in Ilaro Court, the palatial 1920s-built house that serves as the official residence for all Barbadian premiers. A cock crows occasionally in the background, from the expansive gardens outside. In a country the size of Barbados (smaller than the Isle of Man with a population roughly that of Newcastle), leaders end up carrying much of the load themselves, she explains. “So I’m in a job where the mortality rate is one in two. Those were the odds foisted on me, and it’s up to me to beat them,” she says, laughing.

And so she leads her government like a transformational steam train. Barbados is unused to change, but a little more than three years into the job, Mottley has announced plans to make same-sex civil unions legal and to hold a referendum on same-sex marriage, has set a bold immigration bill in motion, and is opening diplomatic missions in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. For Mottley, it is a case of tearing down the old ways to rebuild a country with ambitions for global renown.

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