Vote of no confidence to be called
Opposition leader David Burt announced on Friday night that he will call a motion of no confidence at the next sitting of Parliament.
If the motion succeeds, the Governor would be tasked with removing the Premier.
The One Bermuda Alliance and Progressive Labour Party both have 17 MPs but the Opposition still has one less vote because its member Randy Horton is the Speaker and can vote only in the case of a tie.
The motion could leave the fate of the OBA Government in the hands of independent MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell. The Opposition subsequently issued a triumphant statement calling for Bermudian voters to choose a new Government.
“Tonight, the Progressive Labour Party won two major victories for the people,” the statement read, noting the passage of the PLP's Bill for the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis.
“Then, over the objections of the Minister of Finance, the PLP successfully passed a bill to reduce Bermuda's Statutory Interest Rate from 7 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
“Over the last year, two founding members of the OBA voted with their feet and reduced the OBA to a minority government without a mandate to govern,” the statement continued.
“Today's votes have revealed that the minority OBA government no longer has control of Parliament. Having lost the support of even their founding members, it is clear that it is time to take it to the people and for Bermudians to decide the direction of Bermuda's future.”
Mr Burt echoed the statement speaking to The Royal Gazette shortly after midnight, saying: “It's clear that the One Bermuda Alliance is not able to control the House and, in that vein, it is the responsibility of the opposition to test that in the House.”
He declined say if he felt the votes in the House on Friday would be indicative of the success of the motion.
“I think that what's important is we recognise that it is important for there to be a strong and stable government in place, and the One Bermuda Alliance is clearly neither strong nor stable.”
Michael Dunkley, the Premier, said he was not totally surprised by the motion as it had been brought up before, but that he would face it head-on when the debate takes place.
“We feel that we have made great strides over the last couple of years, certainly in recent months there has been tremendous progress. If you listen to the Opposition you might think the sky is falling and nothing good is happening.
“We will state our case and move forward from there.”
Asked if he felt about the balance of the House being left with two independents — both of whom resigned from the OBA — he said: “It's up to them to speak on the day and decide what they are going to do.
“In the sessions we have had since they have both gone independent, they have argued what they thought on the merits of the Bills and they have supported the Government, they have supported the opposition.
“Today's decriminalisation, the Opposition Bill was very similar to our Bill. Mr Pettingill, to his credit, brought some amendments that made that workable for everyone in the House.
“The Statutory Interest Bill, I think everyone is trying to help people as best they can, and so I don't think those votes are any pretence for what you would expect on any other vote.”
Meanwhile, Mr Crockwell said he would have to consider his decision, but noted that he left the OBA because of his own lack of confidence with the leadership.
“I'm not surprised that the Opposition leader made this motion given the current state of the Government,” he said. “It is the first time that we have had a minority government, and the Government will have problems implementing its legislative agenda, so in those circumstances any Opposition leader worth his weight in salt would recognise that the Government is weak in terms of parliamentary numbers.
“Obviously it's challenging because I have personal relationships with the Government, but I left the Government because I lost confidence. Not in their ability to address the economy and try to stabilise the country going forward, but in their ability to bring the people along, to address the concerns and needs of the people and communicate effectively with the people. “I believe that the Government has lost the trust of the average Bermudian. It's going to be an interesting election. It is a difficult time for us to consider the motion because what's going on in the country, but at the same time you don't suspend politics and the political realities because of what's going on.”