Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley is suggesting that he has no immediate plans to quit the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), despite crossing the floor one week after the May 24 general election.
In fact, Atherley has refused to rule out the possibility of contesting the next general election on a BLP ticket.
The Member of Parliament for St Michael West told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the issue about his party membership was moot, since crossing the floor was tantamount to severing ties with the governing party.
“It depends on what is meant by finalized [separation from the BLP] because for all practical intents and purposes, once you have crossed the floor of Parliament to sit in opposition to Government, you cannot be considered to be part of their councils and party life. So to that extent a severance has taken place,” Atherley said when asked whether the process was being finalized for his official departure from the BLP.
“I think what people have been harping about is whether a formal letter has been written by me to them [BLP] about resignation, or whether one has been written from them to me. I don’t think that is the issue because when we come to the parliamentary context the political party is not recognized as an entity inside the halls of Parliament. So that is an immaterial question, “ he added.
Atherley was quoted in the Sunday Sun newspaper as indicating a willingness to hand in his resignation, providing it was the will of his constituents.
“The reason why I have not yet written a formal letter of resignation is that I believe I must go through the process with the constituents of St Michael West first,” the paper quoted him as saying.
However, he said today the report was a mischaracterization of what he had said, while he said he had met with constituents as recently as two days ago.
Atherley did not reveal details of the discussion with the voters, but he said they were firmly in his corner.
Asked if he planned to contest the next general election as part of a BLP team, the ordained bishop said he would await a call from heaven.
“I go where God leads me and I listen for the call of the people. If I feel the leading of the Lord very strongly to continue, and if the people want me to represent them, then I would offer myself. I had a meeting as recently as two days ago and with unanimous voice the people of St Michael West are suggesting that they are behind me.
“We would have to wait and see the political context under which I run because as one can imagine there are some political realities that must be taken into consideration,” he stressed.
Atherley was the subject of discussion two days ago when Prime Minister Mia Mottley suggested that constituents should have the right of recall.
“If that [crossing the floor] were his intention, he should have communicated that to [his constituents] before Election Day,” Mottley said during a nationally televised interview, stressing that the decision “does raise the issue of trust and we must ask whether we are doing a disservice by allowing this to fester rather than treating to the right of recall for those who cross the floor.
“This is something Trinidad has, and I strongly believe in it,” she stressed, while assuring the people of St Michael West that her ruling BLP would continue to look after their interests.
She strongly questioned the manner in which Atherley went about the process, especially in light of the fact that he was elected a BLP representative, after having campaign heavily on the party’s platform.
“Clearly what was offered to Bishop Atherley was not filling his eyes, and he felt strongly that we needed an Opposition to the Government,” Mottley said.
During the Budget debate last month, Member of Parliament for St Andrew George Payne lashed out at Atherley, asking the Opposition leader to state whether or not he was still a member of the BLP.
“Have you resigned from the Barbados Labour Party? And I am interested in that because I am the chairman of the Barbados Labour Party,” Payne said at the time, adding that ,“I am not going to ask you to resign from the Barbados Labour Party, I am leaving that to your conscience . . . and your conscience should prick you.”