Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Charles Sr quitting - Veteran politician stepping down as Speaker, MP shortly

Published:Thursday | March 5, 2020 | 12:32 AM
Pearnel Charles Sr
Pearnel Charles Sr

After decades of contribution to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and country, veteran politician, trade unionist, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pearnel Patroe Charles, will be relinquishing the gavel within weeks, bringing the curtains down on a near lifetime in representational politics.

A reliable source told The Gleaner that Charles has signalled that he might not stay on as member of parliament before the start of the Budget Debate later this month.

With Charles’ impending departure, Parliamentary Secretary Robert Morgan is expected to be the front-runner for the seat when it becomes vacant.

Pearnel Charles Jr, who emerged victorious in a by-election face-off with independent candidate Dereck Lambert for the Clarendon South Eastern seat on Monday, told The Gleaner earlier this week that he was looking forward to spending even a short period with the elder Charles, his father, in Parliament.

Charles Jr is expected to be sworn in next week.

When quizzed yesterday as to whether he had signalled that he would resign, Charles Sr was mum on the issue.

Yesterday, Speaker Charles was seen rushing off to a meeting with two senior government lawmakers, Dr Horace Chang and Everald Warmington. It is believed that the effective date of Charles’ resignation was among some of the issues discussed.

It is unclear whether Prime Minister Andrew Holness will trigger a by-election in Charles Sr’s Clarendon North Central seat to offer a soft landing for Morgan, who would not face a contestant from the Opposition People’s National Party if it maintained its boycott position in skipping Monday’s Clarendon South Eastern poll.

While it is early days as to who will succeed Charles as Speaker of the House, informed sources indicate that former Speaker Marisa Dalrymple Philibert is being considered for the job.

Charles Sr held the position of deputy leader of the JLP from 1972 to 1991. He penned a book dubbed Detained after he was released from detention under a state of emergency in 1976 that was declared by the then Michael Manley administration.

He entered the Lower House in 1980 after scoring a decisive win over the People’s National Party’s Winston Jones. He remained the member of parliament for St Thomas Eastern until 1993 when he was defeated by Dr Fenton Ferguson.

Charles again entered Gordon House in 2002 when he won the Clarendon North Central seat and is currently in his fourth term.

He spent eight years, spanning 1972 to 1980, in the Senate.

During his political career, Charles served as a Cabinet minister in the portfolios of local government, public utilities and transport, and labour and social security.