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Opposition leader to be sworn in

Jarion Richardson

Jarion Richardson, an MP with the One Bermuda Alliance since 2020, is expected to be named as the new Leader of the Opposition today in a ceremony at Government House.

The 44-year-old Paget West MP has been tipped by party sources as the likely contender for party Leader, with Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health and a former premier, endorsing the OBA’s need for new and younger leadership.

Mr Dunkley has firmly ruled out standing for the leadership of the OBA.

His comments came after Cole Simons announced he was quitting the post of Opposition leader.

The veteran politician, who was head of Government from 2014 to 2017, told The Royal Gazette: “I have done my time.

”This is the moment for other people to come through.“

Mr Richardson, the acting leader of the OBA, is the front-runner for the top job in the party.

It is understood that Craig Cannonier, a former premier, does not intend to stand, leaving Susan Jackson and Scott Pearman as the only other possible candidates.

OBA members will choose the new leader, who must come from among the remaining five MPs, if there is a contest for the post.

The swearing-in ceremony is set for 11am today.

Mr Simons, 71, also announced he was standing down as an MP after 25 years in the House of Assembly, prompting a by-election for his Smith’s South (Constituency 8) seat in the near future.

The outgoing leader has denied there was pressure on him to go during the parliamentary recess.

But The Royal Gazette has been told that a number of prominent OBA party figures had told Mr Simons he needed to stand down to give the party a better shot in the next General Election.

Mr Simons upset some within the party in February over lack of consultation on his Budget response.

Some senior party figures were furious at his decision to reinstate deeply unpopular Travel Authorisation fees if the party returned to power.

Under intense internal pressure, Mr Simons abandoned the initiative and apologised to his colleagues over the issue.

Mr Simons said that under his leadership the OBA was rebuilt after its shattering 2020 defeat, when it ended up with six seats in the 36-member House of Assembly.

Mr Richardson is expected to declare his candidacy after being sworn in as Leader of the Opposition.

The OBA has declined to say how many members the party has ahead of a possible leadership battle.

Walter Roban, the deputy leader of the Progressive Labour Party, last night said the PLP noted the retirement of Mr Simons as Opposition leader and as an MP.

He added: “Cole Simons has worked as a Member of Parliament, as a minister and as the Opposition leader for a quarter of a century.

“The Progressive Labour Party acknowledges the Honourable Cole Simons for 25 years of service as a Member of Parliament and for his commitment to the people of Bermuda.

“We wish him the very best in his retirement.”

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Published August 10, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated August 10, 2023 at 12:45 pm)

Opposition leader to be sworn in

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