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?Splitting from UK is not a priority?

Premier Alex Scott has pledged Independence will be put on the backburner ? but he has refused to say whether it would be an election issue when Bermuda next goes to the polls.<br><br>Progressive Labour Party leadership challenger Ewart Brown has already promised a slow-down on the drive to split from Britain if he is elected tomorrow night.

Premier Alex Scott has pledged Independence will be put on the backburner ? but he has refused to say whether it would be an election issue when Bermuda next goes to the polls.Progressive Labour Party leadership challenger Ewart Brown has already promised a slow-down on the drive to split from Britain if he is elected tomorrow night.Mr. Scott told his Government would take the same path ? if he is given the mandate to continue.He said: ?We are focusing on specifics ? delivery the housing that has been promised.?Independence is not a priority.?Asked if it would be an election issue he said: ?Everything in its time.?We will articulate our election platform when the moment arrives.?There are many things we have to do in addition to discussing Independence. And we have been discussing it ? not moving to independence.?He said Government had never set a date for a decision on moving to full autonomy.Asked if it it was possible independence would be on the next PLP platform he said: ?I didn?t say that.?I am not going to try to pre-empt my party ? my central committee, my parliamentary caucus and the delegates ? by giving a deadline on a date which I haven?t consulted them about.?Mr. Scott had put Independence back on the political agenda in February 2004 but polls have consistently shown a majority against the idea.Asked about the platform put out by Dr. Brown, the Premier said: ?He says he is taking it to the next level. I think it was taken from the Progressive Labour Party position.?It was given the Dr. Brown treatment but it speaks to all the social agenda ? all the issues we have. He even comes to the same conclusion we have that in the case of independence it?s not an event but a process over time.?And the Premier pointed out that Dr. Brown had also agreed for a rethink on the hospital.Launching the start of the PLP annual delegates conference last night Mr. Scott appealed for party unity in a rousing speech which was warmly greeted. He said: ?The eyes of the world are on us as we convene in what has taken on the dimensions of an ?election? conference, even a ?Presidential? election conference.?As we decide the future of our party we are deciding the future of our country.?Appealing for the party not to split Mr. Scott said the memories of the aftermath of the 2003 election were still vivid.To huge applause he said: ?We swiftly resolved the divisions and the tensions that could have ripped other political parties and other Governments asunder.?But he added: ?Tensions that had been dormant since that time appear to have now re-surfaced.?Wounds suffered in that bleak chapter of our party?s history have evidently not yet completely healed. If anything, three-year old wounds might now have been reopened.?Urging restraint he said the party was ?witnessing the public excesses to which certain commentators are going in support of their chosen candidate?.He lashed out at claims the PLP is ?do-nothing, low achievement government? and said despite dire predictions business had boomed since the party?s 1998 election win.After listing the party?s first term achievements he then listed accomplishments since he became Premier including the office of ombudsman, data protection legislation, tougher sentences for crimes involving blades and the development of an economic empowerment zone.Stressing unity he said: ?The Bermuda Progressive Labour party is once again under intense worldwide scrutiny as our party faces its third internal leadership confrontation since our election to Government eight years ago.??We have to reject the mindless assertion that the PLP government is not performing. We have to be careful of a vision that leads only to division.?He urged delegates to endorse his leadership which he said would ensure continuity and a smooth future transition. In one of many barely disguised swipes at challenger Dr Brown he added: ?Leadership that will not deceive you. Leadership that will not betray your trust.?

Premier Alex Scott

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Published February 04, 2011 at 7:35 am (Updated February 04, 2011 at 7:35 am)

?Splitting from UK is not a priority?

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