Opposition Leader and Independent Member of Parliament for St Michael West Bishop Joseph Atherley, announced his intention to join a political party to contest the next general election.
While saying it was too early to name the party, Bishop Atherley ruled out any possibility of returning to the BLP under whose banner he convincingly won his seat in the May 24 general election before resigning to become Opposition Leader.
Bishop Atherley’s comments come after a resolution passed by the BLP’s 80th annual conference at the Lodge School, St John over the weekend, gave political leader and Prime Minister Mia Mottley the “green light” to select a replacement candidate in St Michael West.
Bishop Atherley told a press conference at his office in Parliament Buildings that he expected the BLP to replace him, a move he said would not stop him from representing the people of St Michael West whom he has served in and out of Government for the past 20 years.
He did concede contesting the next general election as an independent was out of the question.
“If I intend to run again and that would be dependent upon how God leads and the voices of the people as I am able to discern them, I will offer myself to continue to serve. If I do that, it would not be as an independent,” the St Michael West MP said.
“What I do, I do in the interest of the people of Barbados. It is that what I do, I do in response to what I hear from them…and I therefore have to hear loudly and I have to hear clearly. It is perhaps a little bit too soon to tell you that I am hearing loudly and clearly,” he added.
Pressed further to clarify if he will face the polls again, he told reporters he intends to serve.
“I plan always to make myself available to the people of Barbados. I do, I really mean that. As long as the Lord gives me breath, I plan to make myself available to the people of Barbados. The Lord will determine the context, the people will help to shape that determination.”
Bishop Atherley was asked if he had been approached by the United Progressive Party (UPP), one of the fringe political parties that unsuccessfully contested the May 24 election.
“I haven’t received any overtures from the UPP,” he said before and after long pauses. Then he added: “You all want to come back to me next week or two weeks from now?”
He hinted some other unnamed political interests have reached out to him.
“They have expressed their interest in supporting me along that path. But shortly I will tell you a little bit more about that,” said the Opposition Leader.
Addressing the question of his effectiveness as an independent parliamentary representative, Bishop Atherley said he was not particularly worried, even as the BLP seeks to put its new candidate in place.
He was concerned about the level of response he got from various ministries to requests for assistance on behalf of his constituents.
“I will still make myself available to the people of St Michael West. I will represent the people as far as I can identify their needs. I will make myself accessible to all the people of St Michael West. I will still try to interact with Government agencies, either directly and through my staff assistants to make sure their needs are articulated and addressed. I don’t know that the presence of a representative on behalf of the Barbados Labour Party will stop me from so doing,” he declared.