Cannabis Bill a way of creating ‘friction’ with Britain – Dunkley
Michael Dunkley, the shadow national security minister, has accused the Government of using its push to legalise cannabis as a way of creating “friction” with London.
The former premier said the legislation was aimed at “picking a fight” with Britain to try and boost support for independence.
David Burt, the Premier, has barely commented on the cannabis controversy despite the island hovering on the brink of a constitutional crisis after Rena Lalgie, the Governor, reserved Royal Assent on the legislation that would legalise consumption and production of the drug.
The move is just short of refusing to sign the Cannabis Licensing Bill into law as the Governor called for talks between Hamilton and Westminster to resolve the controversy.
Ministers will not say what the tone of recent talks on the matter with top British official Paul Candler was.
Mr Dunkley said: “The Government has clearly reached an impasse on the issue.
“The Premier has not decided what to do next. The Premier wanted to pick a fight. The Government wants to build-up friction.
“It’s a [Progressive Labour Party] aim to get independence, but they do not have the support of the people. So they are trying to create friction to try and build support.”
Mr Dunkley said the proposed cannabis legislation needed to be looked at again.
He said: “I believe the Bill can be amended to meet the challenges it faces.”
Mr Burt’s reluctance to discuss the matter comes after earlier comments when he claimed any decision to refuse Royal Assent would “destroy” relations between Bermuda and Britain.
Alhough the Bill passed the House of Assembly, 12 PLP MPs – 40 per cent of the party’s cohort – did not vote for it, although some were overseas at the time.
The move was then tied in the Senate, which in constitutional terms means it was defeated.
The Upper House blocked the Bill last year, but had no power to do so a second time. The matter was then sent to the Governor for consideration.
Mr Candler, the Director of Overseas Territories at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office arrived in Bermuda for talks with the Government after the Governor made her decision.
The Government and the FCDO have failed to respond to repeated requests by The Royal Gazette to comment on the matter.