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Richardson: OBA ready to challenge PLP at the polls

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Jarion Richardson speaks after his appointment as Leader of the Opposition at Government House (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The One Bermuda Alliance has a full slate of 36 candidates and exists “for the purpose of being ready” when it comes to challenging the ruling Progressive Labour Party in the next General Election, the new Opposition leader has vowed.

Jarion Richardson, flanked by party members, told The Royal Gazette outside Government House he did not see the OBA as “anything less than ready”.

Minutes earlier, he had been sworn in as Leader of the Opposition by Rena Lalgie, the Governor.

Mr Richardson, who joined the OBA as a senator in February 2020 and became an MP for Paget West in the October 2020 General Election, said the party’s top priority was the by-election for Smith’s South.

Cole Simons, former Opposition leader and MP for Constituency 8, announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down after 25 years in Parliament.

Jarion Richardson, the new Leader of the Opposition, with One Bermuda Alliance members outside Government House (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Richardson said: “Definitely our priority is the by-election.

“We want to show the voters of Constituency 8 that rather than having lost something, they have gained something new.”

A contest for leadership of the OBA will wait until after voters choose the next MP for Smith’s South, he said.

Ms Lalgie appointed the new Opposition Leader as outlined in Section 72 of the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968 — while the OBA selects its own leader according to the party’s constitution.

Asked if he anticipated challengers for the role, Mr Richardson said: “The OBA constitution is for everyone to follow, everyone to use, everyone to participate in.

“I do not subscribe to the view that shadowy rooms decide outcomes.”

According to the island’s constitution, a by-election must be held within two months of an MP vacating their seat in the House of Assembly.

Mr Richardson said: “After the by-election, that’s when we will sit down and figure out the rest of the exact calendar.

“It really comes down to a set of steps that have to be outlined, including what format that would take. It includes what dates, who is going to be involved, what opportunities will be provided to candidates to speak to the members.

“So it’s not at all a simple exercise. Again, what we want to do is focus on speaking to the voters as a matter of primacy.”

Mr Richardson emphasised the OBA’s readiness for the next General Election.

“We exist because we have something to do and therefore we are always ready. This is what we are here for,” he said.

Although the OBA website lists 20 candidates at present, Mr Richardson insisted: “We have a full 36.”

He added: “We are always looking to improve ourselves, always looking for more volunteers. I would hate for anybody in the public to ever think they are cut out or it’s too late to join.

“We are on a mission of continual improvement, so I would welcome anyone to keep joining the room and keep helping us.”

Asked on his style of leadership, Mr Richardson said: “Definitely, trust in the team.”

He was guarded when it came to the next order of business within the party, saying: “It’s not as if this comes out of the blue.

“This is part of a continuous process and those steps have been put in motion quite some time ago. We are going to keep working on those steps. I would definitely say we have to chew bubblegum and walk at the same time.

“A number of things are happening simultaneously, not just for myself as leader but for us as a party.”

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Published August 11, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated August 11, 2023 at 7:54 am)

Richardson: OBA ready to challenge PLP at the polls

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