Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush unleashed a verbal barrage against the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Thursday, stating that he was forewarned the agency would “try to ruin me” shortly after he took office in 2009.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service announced last weekend that Mr. Bush was the subject of two investigations into “financial irregularities” and was involved in a third criminal probe involving the unlicensed importation of dynamite into Grand Cayman.
Cayman’s opposition party said the stunning revelations regarding the investigations – one of which was previously unknown to the media and the general public – should require Mr. Bush to step aside until those probes conclude.
Mr. Bush said he would do no such thing and that Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin’s statements, along with those made by North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller, were merely political opportunism.
“They have now found solace in the governor and commissioner’s [of police] attack on me and again jump on the bandwagon to begin their calls for me to step down or to be thrown out by my own colleagues,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. McLaughlin has said that if the premier did not heed calls to step aside by Thursday, he would present a motion of no confidence in the current government – the vote essentially aimed at the premier himself – to the Legislative Assembly.
“The Constitution is clear: If they vote against me as premier, my entire government falls,” Mr. Bush said. “It is ludicrous for this power-hungry opposition to believe my government will vote against itself.”
Mr. McLaughlin said on Wednesday that Mr. Bush “cannot be allowed to continue in office in the present circumstances”.
To be successful, Mr. McLaughlin’s motion – which was filed on Friday – would have to gain 10 “yes” votes from the 15 sitting elected members of the LA.
That means all government backbenchers, as well as Mr. Miller, an independent, would have to vote in favour of the motion in order to either remove Premier Bush from office or dissolve the government and hold new elections, since it is unlikely that any of the five elected ministers would choose to vote against their own government.
Some of Mr. Bush’s harshest statements, however, were reserved for the United Kingdom and “civil servants” in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that he described as “his enemies”.
“The FCO [in 2009] tried to force me into instituting income tax, property tax, a 20 per cent reduction in the civil service and a 10 per cent cut in salaries,” Mr. Bush said Thursday. “I said no and that we would find the means to come out of this mess.
“In the face of that kind of resistance to their dogma, my tenacity on behalf of my Islands, my opposition to the exploits of the FCO over the years – did I believe that the FCO liked me? I knew better and I was warned by friends in London that they did not and that they would try to ruin me,” he said.
Mr. Bush said “every excuse” had been used to not support his government’s efforts to rebuild the territory’s economy, presumably referring to projects – including the cruise port terminal and the ForCayman Investment Alliance land swap with the government – that the United Democratic Party government has proposed.
He also alleged that “rumours” of police investigations were part of the “long history of the FCO in the Caribbean”.
“That’s a fundamental reason why they never give up the control of the police in any constitutional reform,” Mr. Bush said. “They control the police for everything they can get them to do. The Labour Party has had the worst record of this.”
According to an RCIPS statement released Saturday: “The RCIPS can confirm that there are a number of investigations currently ongoing involving the Premier of the Cayman Islands, the Hon. McKeeva Bush.
“One involves allegations of financial irregularities in relation to a land deal.
“In addition, a further allegation of financial irregularities has been made which is entirely separate from the first investigation.
“Finally, allegations have been made in relation to the involvement of the premier in the periphery of a recent incident where a quantity of explosives were imported to the Cayman Islands without the necessary permit.
“All three of these investigations are actively ongoing. The governor and the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] are being kept fully updated.”