Bermuda Minister resigns

The embattled Bermuda government, facing daily protests since last week over planned immigration proposals, got a further blow yesterday when Minister of Tourism and Transport Shawn Crockwell resigned from his position.

And he has reportedly told a local newspaper that the same immigration controversy at the heart of the demonstrations against the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) administration, influenced his decision to step down.

Premier Michael Dunkley confirmed Crockwell’s resignation in a brief statement in which he said he had accepted it “with regret”.

“I am disappointed with this development as Shawn was an effective minister who progressed the government’s agenda to restore workplace jobs and opportunity for Bermudians across the Island, from the formation of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Gaming Commission and the imminent development of a new hotel in St. George’s,” he said.

“I will be calling the Governor shortly for a new appointment to the Cabinet so that we can continue the work to restore opportunity and prosperity to Bermuda.”

In an interview with the Royal Gazette, Crockwell said he intends to remain a member of the OBA, explaining that he did not want to contribute to any government instability by causing the party to lose a seat.

But he stressed that he no longer had any confidence in the OBA under Premier Dunkley’s leadership.

“With the slim majority that the OBA has, we have not done a good job in navigating some of the difficult issues. So, as a member of Cabinet, if I feel that the leadership is not doing what it should be doing, if I lose confidence in its direction and methodology, then it is my responsibility to step aside,” Crockwell told the Royal Gazette. “I felt that I could no longer serve under Premier Dunkley and the direction in which he is taking this country.”

The Southampton West Central MP said he and other members of the party had warned about the brewing unrest over the Pathway to Status initiative, which the government wants to implement under the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2016, that would allow people not born in the country but working there for at least 15 years to gain permanent residency, and then citizenship after 20 years.

The protest action, led by the Bermuda Industrial Union and pressure group People’s Campaign, has resulted in strike action that has crippled public transportation, garbage collection, and work at the port. Protesters have converged on Parliament – on Monday preventing legislators from going in to debate the legislation – and marched through the City for the entire week so far.

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