Just days after she was elected as Barbados' first female Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, faces the test of settling internal party conflicts, which has already lead to one member of the ruling party resigning to join the opposition.
Joseph Atherley, who was elected the member of parliament for St. Michael West in the May 24 election won by the BLP, sent a letter to Mottley later Thursday informing her that he was resigning from the party with immediate effect and stating his intention to serve as the sole member of the country's opposition.
The decision was confirmed by a letter from the Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, according to Nation News.
Atherley is one of several elected BLP members of parliament, who were rumored to be considering defecting to the opposition benches after discontent spread within party ranks over the ministerial and other appointments. Gline Clarke, who represents St George North, was another; however, he ruled out the move stating: “if a person wants to cross the floor, first of all, you should go back to the people because you have been elected by the BLP or whatever party's representative.”
He went on to say that he is “opposed to persons who want to cross the floor based on the fact that I am a Member of Parliament and unhappy with anything.”
Having been offered the position of Deputy Speaker, the lawmaker also noted that as a politician you “are never happy with what you are given; you have to make the best out of what you are given. It's not a personal thing; it is something that is good for the country and the good of the party.”
Meanwhile, Robert Morris, the manager of the Democratic Labour Party, which failed in a bid to have Freundel Stuart re-elected Prime Minister, advised his party members against accepting any offer by Mottley to assume opposition Senate seats.
The newly-elected Prime Minister reached out to Governor General Dame Sandra Mason to discuss an amendment that would permit the political party that earned the second largest number of votes to appoint two opposition senators. Though Barbados' Constitution allows for two opposition senators, the BLP won all 30 electoral districts at the polls.
Morris was, however, quick to the offer, saying he believes that the “Democratic Labour Party would be getting back their seats and claiming rightfully by that action, their place in the legislature in due course. I think that is going to happen. So I don’t think there is any necessity to create a position especially at this point in time. The Opposition in Parliament is not the only type of opposition that is possible... I don’t think the Democratic Labour Party wants to be compromised in terms of their participation.”
Barbados' new Cabinet and Parliamentary Secretaries were sworn-in on Sunday, May 27. Two days earlier, Mottley was sworn-in as Barbados' new Prime Minister.