West Bay North MLA Bernie Bush has resigned as Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
It comes less than 24 hours after House Speaker McKeeva Bush announced his decision to take an immediate leave of absence in the wake of allegations that he was involved in the assault of a female bar manager Friday night.
Bernie Bush, in a statement released Thursday, said, “The Speaker of the House has admitted that he will be seeking the help he needs, and I wish him and his family well in what will be a long and difficult process. But with great powers, come great responsibilities, and as a representative of the people I must always strive to lead by example. I therefore in good conscience cannot step up to fill a role that has been tainted by the weakness of the Unity Government to take the morally right, rather than politically expedient, course of action.”
He said the recent alleged incident involving the Speaker of the House which resulted in a female member of the public being injured, “only to be followed by the Speaker taking a temporary leave of absence, leaves me in an untenable situation when considering the severity and seriousness of this incident and the implications of the Speaker’s planned leave”.
His resignation now leaves the Speaker’s chair open for a new Deputy Speaker to preside in the absence of McKeeva Bush, who despite taking a ‘leave of absence’, officially remains as the Speaker of the House.
Bernie Bush left the Unity Government backbench last year during the port referendum debate.
In his statement, he thanked Premier Alden McLaughlin and all members for electing him as deputy speaker.
With this latest development, the premier now has to name a new Deputy Speaker from among the elected MLAs. According to the Constitution, the Speaker of the House can be chosen from outside the pool of elected representatives, but a Deputy Speaker must be an MLA, who is not a government minister.
McLaughlin, in a comment to the Compass on Bernie Bush’s announcement, said he was not surprised by the resignation.
“Mr. Bernie Bush and I discussed his resignation as Deputy Speaker during the last meeting of the House in January. At the next meeting of the House, members will proceed to elect a new Deputy Speaker.”
He said the member to be offered for election in the House will be announced in “due course”.
No date has been set for the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly.