Opposition leader Bishop Joseph Atherley. (FILE)
Opposition leader Bishop Joseph Atherley says he won’t be sidetracked from his mission by calls from various quarters for him to state whether or not he is still a member of the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
Atherley said his primary focus was on the constituents of St Michael West and he therefore refused to be drawn into that controversy.
“I am a Member of Parliament representing the people of St Michael West and, in my role as the Leader of the Opposition, representing the people of Barbados,” he said.
Last Wednesday, while speaking during the Mini-Budget debate, Acting Prime Minister George Payne demanded answers from Atherley as to whether he had resigned from the BLP.
“I am interested in that because I am the chairman of the BLP. I am not going to ask you to resign from the BLP, I am leaving that to your conscience . . . and your conscience should prick you,” the Member of Parliament for St Andrew said.
Deeming the “controversy” surrounding his position with the BLP a peripheral issue, the bishop said his concerns would always be for the people of St Michael West, adding “the only thing that has changed is the addition of my new role as Opposition Leader. I have no comment other than that”.
Atherley won his seat on a BLP ticket in the May 24 General Election and crossed the floor one week later to become Independent Opposition Leader. He has since chosen trade unionist Caswell Franklyn and economist Crystal Drakes as Independent senators.
Several calls have been made for Atherley to declare his hand on where he stands in respect of the party he supported as a member for more than 20 years.
Atherley sat in the Opposition Leader’s chair as Payne launched his attack. Payne questioned whether the Opposition Leader had plans of resigning from Parliament and placing his seat at the disposal of the constituents of St Michael West, stating the he was hurt when Atherley posed several questions during his Budget Reply last Tuesday, even though he had participated in consultations with regards to the BLP’s manifesto pledges. (JB)