Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Warmington declares he was forced to accept restrictive role as state minister

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2016 | 9:34 PM
Warmington's comments came during a sitting of the Constituency Development Fund Committee of Parliament where he said he wanted to respond to allegations he said were made by member Dayton Campbell that he ‘blackmailed’ the government for the appointment.

Jovan Johnson, Staff Reporter

South West St Catherine Member of Parliament Everald Warmington this morning claimed he was forced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to accept his appointment as state minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, because "I didn't want it".

Warmington's comments came during a sitting of the Constituency Development Fund Committee of Parliament where he said he wanted to respond to allegations he said were made by member Dayton Campbell that he ‘blackmailed’ the government for the appointment.

According to Warmington, Campbell, who was absent from the sitting, reportedly said he wanted the appointment otherwise he would have switched political allegiance from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

“I didn’t hear the statement, but there are several persons who tell (sic) me that he made some reference to me on a political platform,” Warmington said, noting that he wanted “to respond publicly”.

“There ain’t no chance of me doing that. Firstly, a snowball in hell would have more chance of surviving than me switching allegiance."

North West Manchester MP Mikael Phillips questioned whether the Parliament was the appropriate place for his response, to which Warmington said “yes”.

Pressing ahead, he said: “My affiliation with the political party can never change and will never change at this stage. I have served it for 47 years and was born in it, caa guh nuh weh”.

Warmington was sworn in as a state minister on April 13 with no prior announcement from the Government, over a month after most ministers were sworn in, raising speculation on whether Holness was doing an appeasement job.

"I never seek an appointment as a minister. It took a whole lot of convincing. For three weeks, efforts were made by the prime minister and by others to take an appointment which I refused to do."

Explaining why he refused, Warmington said: "I want my freedom to come to this House to present private members motions, to say what I want to say both here and in the public. As it stands now, I have to follow a certain line - I cannot speak freely. Because if I say anything it’s gonna reflect on the Government, not for me, and that’s why I wanted always to be a backbencher."

He added: "As a minister, the prime minister can fire you at will. As a member of parliament, the only person can fire [are] the people of South West St Catherine and it can be done only in five years and if I perform they will never fire me. So I didn’t seek appointment.

The MP also addressed concerns about why the swearing-in was not announced before.

“The day the ministers [were sworn in], I made sure that I went to Old Harbour and sat in my office in a meeting with my councillors and when the call came to me I said I’m with my constituents with my councillors. They said ‘You need to come in and get dressed to come to King’s House. My response was ‘there was no way I can leave Old Harbour in time reach to my house to change to come to King’s House to be sworn in”

“It was a deliberate attempt on my part so that I would not be close by to go for it. I didn’t want it. I was forced to take it. So there was no threat and can never be any threat. When the ship going down, and if I’m the last one in the bow, I going down with it, me and JC Hutchinson.”

Campbell, meanwhile, has said he made the statements based on information he received.

“I don’t attend meetings at Belmont Road (JLP headquarters). What I was told was that Warmington was upset that he wasn’t appointed and that he made the threat. If he said he did not say it, then I leave the issue right there.”

Warmington holds responsibility for works under the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry in the OPM.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com