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Knight, Brown Burke ready to resign from Senate

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson
K.D. Knight
Angela Brown Burke

Two of the eight opposition senators have signalled that if necessary, they are prepared to resign to give Dr Peter Phillips, the incoming opposition leader, the opportunity to make his own appointments.

Their disclosure comes amid commentator Dr Paul Ashley's call for the current senators appointed on the recommendation of outgoing leader Portia Simpson Miller to tender their resignation simultaneous with Phillips's appointment on April 2.

K.D. Knight and Dr Angela Brown Burke have said that they would have no problem doing "whatever" is required by the new People's National Party leader even though the Constitution is silent on what to do when there is a change in leadership of the Government and the Opposition.

"Oh yes! Without hesitation," Knight told The Gleaner when asked if he would be prepared to give up his position in Parliament's Upper House.

Under the Constitution, senators are appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister or the opposition leader. Once appointed, they cannot be removed unless they resign, the life of Parliament ends, or their absence from the House breaches the rules of the Senate.

But Ashley has argued that because a leader of the opposition must first recommend the senators to be appointed, "it is reasonable to infer that if the leader of the opposition changes, then he should be free to appoint his new senators".

Knight said that he agreed with that principle, "however, this is going to be a totally internal matter". Whatever the outcome, the senator, a Phillips ally, said that he is prepared to "adhere".

... We don't need your advice!

Angela Brown Burke, a Portia Simpson Miller loyalist, in a swipe at Ashley, said that her party does not need external advice even as she said that she would do whatever to ensure the unity of the party.

"We don't have planned letters of resignation, and every single one of us wants to make sure Dr Phillips has his mandate. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to put the PNP in the best position to defend the people of Jamaica," she said.

Phillips has not commented on the issue, but Mark Golding, leader of opposition business in the Senate, said that his side would meet with Phillips to come up with a position in "a couple of weeks".