Members of the political Opposition coalesced with the ruling Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration to become part of the government following the release of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report months ago. However, the coalition was not without its share of controversy since at least one displaced government minister crossed the parliamentary floor to become part of the political opposition because of a difference in views.
Asked recently whether there are plans to contest the upcoming elections as a government of national unity or as members of separate camps, Dr Wheatley said it was difficult to say, but he noted that many persons in the community have commended his government for taking the necessary steps to become unified.
The Premier expressed that the while the move was rare in the region and persons may sometimes be required to let their egos take a backseat in such instances, it was necessary to do what was in the national interest as opposed to what was in the interest of any particular party.
“I think with the reforms and with the crisis that we face it’s a national issue and you want all hands on deck, and you don’t want partisan interests to take precedence over territorial interests,” the Premier said.
Dr Wheatley further argued that he felt the Government of National Unity is an excellent way to go about implementing reforms.
“It’s almost like some built-in transparency I would say, because of course, you know you cannot take decisions in favour of any particular party because, of course, the coalition would fall apart. It wouldn’t work,” the Premier stated.
“I surely hope that the coalition lasts even beyond the next election, because of course sometimes when you’re arguing and fighting, you really forget how like-minded you actually are,” he added.
The Premier said Opposition members who came across from different party groups all agreed in more ways than they disagreed and he felt it was in the best interest of the people for them to continue working together.
“What form and what shape that takes in the future? I’m not quite sure. But I do know that we need everybody working and being on the same page,” the Premier said.
The Premier also stated that he was not discounting the role of the Opposition since it played an important part in holding the government‘s proverbial feet to the fire.
“You’ll always need an Opposition to be able to do that. But of course I like the idea of all hands on deck and everybody working together,” Dr Wheatley added.