Prospect MLA Austin Harris said Monday that he has not joined the Progressives political party, despite taking up the position as the coalition government [*] “whip” in Cayman’s government of national unity.
Mr. Harris told the Cayman Compass that he is still an independent member of the Legislative Assembly and backbench councilor for Premier Alden McLaughlin’s ministry.
The premier’s office said last week that Mr. Harris was invited to Westminster in the U.K. recently to “understudy” the whip’s offices in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
In Westminster-style democracies, it is usually the job of the whip to ensure other members of the government bench vote according to the party line and are informed of the government’s position on certain issues.
Mr. Harris said last week that he views the role as a “tremendous opportunity.”
“As both the constitutional and legislative processes in the Cayman Islands continue to evolve, it is important that members receive the necessary training and exposure to enable the effective operation of Government in Parliament,” Premier McLaughlin said.
For now, the balance of power in the Legislative Assembly does not shift, with Mr. Harris, as well as independent ministers Tara Rivers and Dwayne Seymour officially staying outside the Progressives party while remaining members of the government.
Three Cayman Democratic Party MLAs also remain with the government of seven elected Progressives party members.
[*] Editor’s note: Clarifies Mr. Harris is coalition government’s whip, not the Progressives party whip.