Both Premier Wayne Panton and Deputy Premier Chris Saunders have dismissed rumours of dissension within government’s ranks, saying the PACT administration will not be distracted by “nonsense”.
The government leaders were, at the time, responding to queries from the Cayman Compass at Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing regarding rumours, which have been circulating for weeks, that there was a split in the government over the border-reopening issue.
Panton, however, shut down claims that his government was fraying, stating that was not the case.
“When you hear a lot of noise around like that, that’s just somebody trying to amplify it, to play politics, to cause problems, to create strife, to distract people from what they have to do, from what they have to achieve for the people of this country. I am not going to get distracted and I’m not going to allow any of my colleagues to get distracted over any nonsense like that,” Panton declared.
He said there have been no issues, nor disruptions, nor any threats within the ranks and his team is working together.
Decisions, he said, are made by consensus and every member understands the “concept of collective responsibility”.
“When you have a decision made in Cabinet, that’s a decision made in Cabinet. If you are a Cabinet member and you disagree… you either have the option of going along supporting it or, in any government at any time, you can resign, that is your choice as a Cabinet member,” he said.
Citing his own experience in two previous governments, Panton said there were more threats of people walking out of government over issues then, than his current administration has had.
He added the caveat: “Obviously we haven’t been here very long, so who knows what issues will come along, but this is not an issue for anybody to be relying on rumours about.”
Saunders, who jumped in to address the issue, said, as with any government, there will be disagreements, but everything they do, any decision they make, goes through caucus and everyone has a say and consensus is agreed, before it is presented to the public.
“Democracy itself is a system that is built on accepting there is division, disagreement, discord and dissent. What it also says… we have debate, discussion and dialogue and we come to consensus. We do not have any ‘follow the leader, [follow the] leader’ mentality inside here,” he said, adding that the premier will only face the public and say something when “it is with the unanimous full support of the entire caucus, it does not come out of our mouth publicly if it is not”.
He stated that, while there is consensus, that does not stop MPs “who are still independents”, from giving their “personal opinion,” but when it comes to government policy, he said, there is one voice.
Saunders suggested if anyone comes to the media to say otherwise, the question should be asked why they did not say anything in caucus.
He said differences of opinion are natural, but that does not spell break-up.
“Husband and wife have differences of opinion every day; they don’t go out and get divorced, they just co-exist, move on and live… that’s the reality of it,” Saunders asserted.