Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley says he never expected to be in Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Cabinet.
Setting the record straight, “once and for all”, the Member of Parliament for St Michael West knocked down suggestions from Prime Minister Mottley over the weekend that his motivation for severing ties with the BLP, was linked to her decision not to give him a ministry to run.
“I did not leave the Barbados Labour Party and go into Opposition because I did not get a post in Miss Mottley’s Cabinet. I have said it before and it bears repeating, that was not my motivation for going over to the other side. In fact, I never expected to be appointed to Miss Mottley’s Cabinet,” said Atherley.
Furthermore, Atherley has categorically dismissed the notion that he took on the Opposition challenge in the House of Assembly with the formation of the People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP) simply to gain access to the $300,000 subvention.
Delivering the feature remarks on day one of the BLP’s annual conference over the weekend, Mottley said: “I can’t say, but I know it is my judgement and not nobody else’s, you can decide what you want to believe, but it is my judgement that Joe Atherley is where he is today because I did not offer him a position in the Cabinet of Barbados. He wants straight talk, so let us get to straight talk.
“But I go further, that there would be no PdP if there was not the belief on some people’s part in the precincts of Parliament that they could go and share in a subvention for political parties.”
However, in a staunch defence of his decision to cross the floor, Atherley revealed that he had never entertained any expectation of a Cabinet post and would have conveyed as much to his constituents and supporters long before the May 2018 election.
“Those who worked with me in my election campaign can tell you that repeatedly during the course of the election campaign, I would have said to them, ‘if any of you is in here because you all believe that if the BLP wins the election that I am going to be a Cabinet Minister and in a position to help you, then you need to disabuse yourself of that thinking because I do not expect to be in Miss Mottley’s Cabinet’. So if that was my spirit before the election then there is no way that not having a Cabinet post would have caused me to leave the BLP,” he stressed.
The Opposition Leader went on to challenge Mottley to state whether the topic of a Cabinet position ever entered the discourse, when he informed her of his decision to leave the party.
“In nothing which I said to the Prime Minister in terms of crossing the floor, did I ever raise any issue with respect to any Cabinet position. I never gave so much as a hint that would suggest that I wanted a Cabinet position,” he said.
It was with this same vigour that Atherley defended the decision to form the PDP, noting that at no stage did the thought of accessing taxpayer financing, factor into the equation.
“The formation of the PdP has nothing to do with any subvention. The formation of the PDP results from my sense that I can present a better opposition to the now Government in the interest of the people of Barbados, if I could find people of like mind and of like interest, who would come together and give Barbados a credible legitimate alternative to the now Government. The formation of the PdP helps me as the singular member of the Opposition side,” he contended.
Although he noted that he was not going to get into a political tussle over whether his party was entitled to share in the subvention, he suggested that the Prime Minister’s interpretation of the criteria was off.
From the party platform on Saturday Mottley said: “I want you to know and the rest of the country that when that subvention was first formulated, the rule for access to the subvention was that you must have had run in the last general election and fielded at least one third of the Cabinet in Parliament, so Joe, luck buss! You got to wait and win some seats next time around.”
However, Atherley told Barbados TODAY that he knew there were some within the Prime Minister’s party that disagreed with that view.