Opposition politicians are threatening to boycott proceedings of the Legislative Assembly if they are prevented from bringing a no confidence motion against the government.
Following Premier McKeeva Bush’s refusal to stand down in the wake of three police investigations involving him, members of the People’s Progressive Movement party and North Side independent legislator Ezzard Miller issued a joint call for his resignation and announced plans to launch a no confidence vote. The opposition brought a no confidence vote last year, but it was defeated.
Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin, at a press briefing Monday afternoon, 23 April, called on elected representatives within the United Democratic Party to remove Mr. Bush as premier and replace him with Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly or another UDP member.
“McKeeva Bush continuing in office as premier of the Cayman Islands is untenable. In no democracy that we’re aware of would the highest elected person in the land be allowed to continue in office under the weight of three criminal investigations,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
“We call on all the right-thinking members of his administration and of his party to exert whatever pressure is necessary on Mr. Bush to have him do the right thing by the country. His continuing in office under the weight of these criminal investigation is not only a serious disservice to the country, but is doing actual harm to the reputation of this jurisdiction,” he added.
If Mr. Bush refused to step down or if the UDP failed to remove him by Thursday, 26 April, then the PPM would file a motion of no confidence in the government, Mr. McLaughlin said. If Speaker of the House Mary Lawrence refused to accept that motion or, if she accepted it but it was not the first order of business when the House resumes as scheduled on Wednesday, 9 May, then the PPM would refuse to participate in the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly until their motion was dealt with.
Mr. McLaughlin said that as the Speaker of the House had accepted a motion by government regarding the single member constituency referendum bill during the current meeting of the Legislative Assembly, then she should also accept the opposition’s motion of no confidence, even though neither motion had been filed within the requisite notice period.
Over the weekend, police revealed there were three investigations involving Mr. Bush, two relating to financial irregularities and one relating to a probe into the importation of explosives. This followed a disclosure by Governor Duncan Taylor at a press conference on Friday evening that Mr. Bush was subject to two investigations.
Mr. McLaughlin said the parliamentary group of the PPM and Mr. Miller had met with visiting UK Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham and Governor Taylor on Friday morning and had expressed concerns about Mr. Bush remaining in power, despite being the subject of a two-year police investigation in relation to a real estate deal with US developer Stan Thomas.
On Sunday, Mr. Bush’s press secretary Charles Glidden issued a statement saying Mr. Bush had no intention of resigning and had done nothing illegal. According to that statement, the premier believed that the announcement about the investigations had been timed to embarrass him and the people of Cayman during Mr. Bellingham’s visit to the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Bush, in the statement, said he would like to issue an “immediate and comprehensive statement dealing with the innuendos suggested by the inappropriate statements issued by the Commissioner of Police”, but would obtain legal advice from UK counsel before doing so.
Referring to the proposed no confidence motion, Mr. McLaughlin said the fact that the opposition did not have enough members in the Legislative Assembly to carry a vote on that motion did not mean it would automatically fail as he appealed to the conscience of UDP government members to support the no confidence motion. “We will decide after the outcome of that motion what else we do. It is the only constitutional mechanism we have,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
Joining the call for Mr. Bush’s resignation, North Side’s Mr. Miller also urged the UDP to invoke its own party constitution to remove Mr. Bush as premier. “That would be the least risk constitutionally to the Cayman Island is they would just follow their own party constitution and do what is needed,” Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Miller said he plans to boycott the opening session of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, 9 May, to “show my disgust with the premier being allowed to continue in office, while the three investigations proceed”.
He added: “I will be standing outside the LA under the tree and I invite the PPM and the public to join me in this protest.”
The PPM party had not yet decided if their boycott of the Legislative Assembly would take the form of removing themselves from the chamber of the Legislative Assembly or remaining there but refusing to take part, Mr. McLaughlin said.
Mr. Miller also called for the Cayman Islands representative in London, Lord Blencathra, to resign or for the government to terminate his contract of employment following criticisms laid against him, which have appeared in the UK media.
Questions have been raised about Lord Blencathra being paid to lobby for the Cayman Islands while at the same time being able to vote on legislation affecting Cayman as a member of the House of Lords. “The Cayman Islands will suffer enough reputational damage with the three ongoing investigations of the premier and we have no need to endure what will transpire in the UK media surrounding this issue,” Mr. Miller said.