Bishop Joseph Atherley is calling on Kerrie Symmonds to follow in his footsteps and cross the floor of the House of Assembly to become the next Leader of the Opposition.
On the same day that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was returned to office with all 30 seats in the Lower House, Atherley told Barbados TODAY the country needed an opposition and he believed Symmonds was the best man for the job.
Atherley was part of the BLP team that won the general election in May 2018, capturing the St Michael West seat. However, days later, he crossed the floor to become Opposition Leader. He subsequently defended the move, maintaining that it was neither a response to him not getting a Cabinet pick nor a rejection of the BLP.
In a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, he said while he expected to be criticised for his suggestion that Symmonds cross the floor, it would be dangerous for the Mia Mottley-led administration to operate unchallenged.
He said he believes the former Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, who easily recaptured the St James Central seat, amassing 2,421 votes, was the best person to offer the needed challenge.
Atherley said such a move would be in the best interest of Barbados.
“The interests of the country always come first and whatever flack I take in pursuit of those interests then let the flack come. But I really would like to make a call on somebody within the bosom of the newly elected parliamentary group of the BLP government to be man enough or woman enough to cross the floor and to constitute a proper opposition to the Government of Barbados,” he said.
“I do not think that they should see that narrowly as a disloyalty to party or a disloyalty to the people who elected them. I see it rather as a loyalty of a higher level to the country of Barbados. Our Constitution anticipates the presence in the physical embodiment of an Opposition in the Parliament of Barbados. Yes, it might admit of a reality that there is nobody but it does anticipate that there will always be somebody….
“I’m really calling on one of them to stand up. Perhaps it would have to be somebody who has served in the capacity of a minister before. Perhaps it would have to be somebody who has had a sufficient volume and body of experience at the political level. I really would want to personally identify Kerrie Symmonds and call on him in the interest of Barbados to step across and fill the position of the Leader of the Opposition. Then, of course, he has the opportunity to appoint two people to the Senate to help to build that opposition,” he pointed out.
Bishop Atherley maintained that if “left unchecked”, the government would contrive a mechanism that “affords the semblance of an Opposition”.
The president of the newly formed Alliance Party for Progress (APP) was soundly defeated in Wednesday’s election after switching to the St Michael Central constituency where the incumbent, Arthur Holder got 2,014 votes. He received only 267 votes.