Lawrence Scott ‘surprised’ by Cabinet sacking
Lawrence Scott has said he is “surprised, but not bitter” to have been dismissed as transport minister by David Burt, the Premier.
The Cabinet shake-up also saw the removal of Ernest Peets as Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, as well as Government Leader of the Senate.
The transport portfolio was given to Wayne Furbert, while Owen Darrell, the Premier’s Chief of Staff, took over the two roles of Mr Peets.
Mr Scott told The Royal Gazette: “I was surprised because I thought I was doing a good job.
“I’m not bitter.
“It’s politics, not Sunday school.”
Asked if he thought the decision could have been punishment for Mr Scott publicly stating he was thinking of running for the PLP deputy leader’s post in the internal elections, the former minister said: “You’d have to ask the Premier that.“
Pressed on whether the move could be related to his father, Alex Scott, the former PLP premier, saying that Mr Burt needed to look less “autocratic”, Mr Scott said: “Again, you would need to ask the Premier that.”
The Premier, who attended the swearing-in ceremony at Government House, denied that Mr Scott’s open consideration of standing against Walter Roban for the role of deputy premier played a part in his exit from Cabinet.
The move comes a week after Mr Burt defeated Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister, in a fractious fight for the PLP leadership by 97 votes to 56.
Regarding his departure from the Cabinet, Mr Scott added: “The Premier no longer thinks I’m a good fit for the team and he has put me on the bench — but then Ronaldo doesn’t get to play every game.
“I achieved a lot in the role, but now I will put all my efforts into helping my constituents and the PLP.”
Asked if his “autocrat” comments about Mr Burt could have factored in the sacking, Mr Scott’s father told The Royal Gazette: ”I would hope not, but I did not see this coming.
“I’m prejudiced because I am his father, but I thought he was a very effective minister. He ticked all the boxes.
“As someone who was premier, I would like to have had this based on merit, but it is not always merit that is the factor in these decisions.”
The reshuffle also saw Mr Furbert’s Cabinet Office ministerial responsibilities given to Vance Campbell, who remains as the Minister of Tourism.
At the swearing-in event, Mr Burt said the changes would reduce the size of Cabinet from 13 members to 12 and cut costs during a challenging economic time.
Asked if the decision to remove Mr Scott was related to his public musing on running for PLP deputy leader, the Premier said: “Making Cabinet changes is very difficult and it’s incredibly difficult when you have the largest parliamentary group in PLP history.
“That is a challenge, but I don’t view it as anything other than being the captain of a team.
“Sometimes you have to rotate the team and that is the way that we look at it.
“There are a significant number of items that have to be done outside of Cabinet and I look forward to the support of the ministers who are no longer part of Cabinet to advance those initiatives.”
Mr Furbert said he had only recently been informed that he would be returning to the Ministry of Transport for the third time. He was in the role in the late 1990s when he was an MP for the United Bermuda Party. He later crossed the floor and joined the PLP and held the portfolio again when Ewart Brown was Premier.
He said: “I am quite familiar with the department, so I will talk to the permanent secretary and the staff about things I want to work on and we will go from there.”
Mr Darrell said he looked forward to getting to work and bringing the recently released National Sports Policy to fruition.
He said: “I am very excited that it was rolled out a few weeks ago. I have a copy in my bag and I am going to jump right in and start moving forward with some of those plans.
“What you don’t want is hardworking public officers to come up with plans for them to just sit on a desk. That won’t happen, and I will tell you the people of Bermuda can look forward to many of the plans in that policy to come forward.”
A few days after Mr Dickinson’s resignation as finance minister just before the February Budget, Mr Burt publicly denied it was because of a clash over government sweeteners for the developers of the long-discussed Fairmont Southampton revamp.
Mr Dickinson, who branded Mr Burt a “liar” in the final days of the PLP leadership race, has repeatedly said the strong disagreement with the Premier over the hotel deal was the main reason for him quitting Cabinet.