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Furbert replaces Brown in Cabinet

Out in the cold: Walton Brown lasted five months as the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Government minister Walton Brown was ousted from Cabinet last night.

Mr Brown, the Minister for the Cabinet Office for less than six months, will be replaced by Wayne Furbert, the junior finance minister, effective today.

Mr Brown, viewed as on the Left wing of the Progressive Labour Party, was elected MP for Pembroke Central in 2012, when the fledgeling One Bermuda Alliance defeated the PLP by a slim margin.

He was appointed to Mr Burt’s first shadow Cabinet in 2016 responsible for home affairs after Marc Bean stepped down as Opposition leader because of illness.

Mr Brown then became the minister for the portfolio after the PLP swept to victory in the July 2017 General Election.

He was replaced in the job by Walter Roban in November last year, taking the Cabinet Office job instead.

Mr Brown was a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage in Bermuda, despite steering through the House of Assembly the Domestic Partnership Act, which replaced a court ruling to allow marriage equality with domestic partnerships.

He said when the Act was passed in the House of Assembly in December 2017: “On the ground, the political reality is that if we do not lead we would have a Private Members Bill tabled to outlaw same-sex marriage.

“That Bill would pass because more than 18 MPs are opposed to same-sex marriage. If that Bill passes same-sex couples have no rights whatsoever.

“This is tough for me. But I don’t shy away from tough decisions.”

Mr Brown could not be contacted for comment last night.

Wayne Furbert, who once led the former United Bermuda Party, has been in politics since 1993 and represents Hamilton West.

He held several ministerial posts in UBP administrations, but crossed the floor to the PLP in 2010 when the UBP was in Opposition.

He was appointed Minister of Tourism and Economic Development in 2011. Mr Burt appointed Mr Furbert junior finance minister in October 2017.

Mr Furbert was an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and his threat to introduce a Private Member’s Bill to outlaw gay marriage was a major driver behind the compromise solution on domestic partnerships.

Same-sex marriage has since been reintroduced by the courts, but the Government is to appeal that decision to Bermuda’s final court of appeal, the Privy Council.

David Burt, the Premier, said last night that Mr Brown “brought a reasoned and thoughtful approach to the discharge of his ministerial responsibilities and I am confident that he will continue to serve the people of Bermuda well in other areas.”

He added that Mr Furbert “has worked extremely hard and has provided significant support of the ministry’s core functions as well as leadership of the Government’s Efficiency Committee”.

He added: “I look forward to him joining the Cabinet team and bringing the same energy to this new role.”