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PLP moves to emphatically deny MOU allegations

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The Progressive Labour Party has moved to quash allegations that the Premier asked MPs to sign an agreement not to challenge him on policy decisions.

The allegations were made on social-media outlets, claiming that a Memorandum of Understanding effectively blocked MPs from questioning David Burt.

It was also claimed that politicians were also barred from speaking publicly without Mr Burt’s permission – and would be ordered to resign if they broke any of the MOU’s terms.

But in an emphatic denial, Dawn Simmons, the party chairwoman, said: “There is no MOU, there has never been an MOU and there will never be an MOU.”

The allegations began circulating on websites last month. One anonymous post read: “This MOU instructed the MPs that they could not challenge nor speak out against David Burt, their chosen leader.

Denial: Dawn Simmons, the chairwoman of the Progressive Labour Party (File photograph)

“According to this document, the MPs were not permitted to challenge any of Burt’s decisions, nor were they allowed to speak out publicly without his approval. And if they did, they would have to resign from their seats.”

On Wednesday, Anthony Richardson, the PLP MP for Hamilton South, said the claims were “preposterous”.

In a Facebook post, he said: “I can state factually that I have never seen such an MOU let alone signed one – a sentiment spontaneously confirmed by many of my fellow MPs.

“Our accountability as MPs is to you, the voters. Therefore, any proposed MOU that contemplates allegiance to a political leader against the threat of resignation is more than preposterous!”

Questioned about the allegations during a telephone interview with The Royal Gazette on Wednesday, Ms Simmons, said: “I can’t speak to that because nothing was done from the party side. It is not a party issue. I don’t know what is being referred to. I haven’t heard anything. It’s not a party issue. I have no comment to make.”

Asked if an MOU would be a breach of the party constitution and would need to be investigated, Ms Simmons said: “I stick to my previous comment. I have nothing to say at this time.”

Later, Ms Simmons gave a more forthright answer, saying in an e-mail: “The Progressive Labour Party is a vibrant and democratic organisation with Members of Parliament that speak up on a wide range of issues. Bermuda deserves better than a press that continue asking questions based on social-media rumour without a shred of evidence backing up their accusation."

“There is no MOU, there has never been an MOU and there will never be an MOU.”

Walter Roban, the Minister for Home Affairs, said he had not seen an MOU. In a telephone conversation, Mr Roban, who is also the Deputy Premier, said: “I would advise you to contact the party for an official statement. I have nothing to say at this time.

“I haven’t seen an MOU. Anthony Richardson made a personal decision but I am not able to comment. There is nothing else I can say. Any statement must come from the party.”

Asked if he had discussed the matter with the Premier, he said: “I have nothing else to say. Have a good evening.”

The Royal Gazette also texted Mr Burt for comment. No response was received by press time.

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Published October 07, 2022 at 4:39 am (Updated October 07, 2022 at 4:39 am)

PLP moves to emphatically deny MOU allegations

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