Opposition Members across the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM), National Democratic Party (NDP) and Progressives United (PU) have claimed they were blindsided by Hon Lorna G. Smith, OBE (AL) who defected from the NDP and formed a Government with the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) on April 25, 2023.
In a joint Opposition press conference today, April 27, 2023, with leaders and elected members of the three parties, it was revealed that during negotiations and talking between the three parties, Mrs Smith made the announcement that she would join with the VIP.
NDP chairman Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) said
a time was already set for the three party leaders to meet and discuss
moving forward as a government, ahead of Mrs Lorna G. Smith teaming up
with the VIP.
Parties were negotiating when rug was pulled - Hon Skelton
“We had negotiations between the three leaders... while we were negotiating, the rug was pulled from under us, that's the reason we are not in government,” Chairman of PVIM Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL) told the press today.
His indication was that the party never saw it coming that Mrs Smith would defect, given the Opposition has a majority in the House of Assembly (HoA) and was already on the path to forming the Government.
NDP chairman Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) said a time was already set for the three party leaders to meet and discuss moving forward as a government, ahead of Mrs Smith joining the VIP.
“While those discussions were being had, a decision was made, as we learned during that discussions, was made by Hon Lorna Smith to form an alliance with the Virgin Islands
Party,” he added.
Hon Julian Fraser said in his discussion
with the VIP, he told them that the only way he would work with the
party under Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley, was if he could be Premier.
No discussion made with Hon Smith on teaming up with VIP - Hon Penn
“I want to make it very clear to the public, that at no time was this discussed in terms of what the decision was made by her,” he said while adding that suggestions were made by Mrs Smith concerning a possible alliance with the VIP, however, it was decided that discussions would be had with the PU and PVIM.
Hon Penn added that steps are also being taken to deal with Mrs Smith’s decision in the swiftest possible way.
Meanwhile, PU Chairman Hon Julian Fraser, RA said after monitoring the count of votes and moving to his party headquarters, he already had discussions with the two leaders of the PU and PVIM on a strategy for the elections.
He added that in his discussion with the VIP, he told them that the only way he would work with the party under Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley, was is if he could be Premier.
Nevertheless, the Opposition Members have vowed to hold the government accountable in the House of Assembly.