Cabinet reshuffled as Saunders crosses the floor

| 21/03/2023 | 166 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chris Saunders

(CNS): Premier Wayne Panton has reshuffled his Cabinet after Chris Saunders, the deputy premier and finance minister, resigned from PACT following a meeting between the two men Tuesday. Neither Panton nor Saunders have detailed the reasons for his departure, but Saunders said he was crossing the floor to sit as an independent opposition member as a result of “differences that are material to” the two men working together.

Despite long-standing rumours that the PACT government was divided, the resignation still came as a surprise. However, there is no indication at this point that any of Saunders’ allies within PACT are departing with him.

Panton should still retain a sitting majority of at least ten with his seven Cabinet colleagues, plus Heather Bodden and Isaac Rankin on the back-bench and Speaker Kathy Ebanks-Wilks, who continues to caucus with PACT.

However, it is not clear at this stage if McKeeva Bush, who does not caucus with PACT, will continue to support the government or cross the floor with Saunders, increasing the opposition numbers to seven.

In the Cabinet reshuffle, Panton has taken over the responsibility for finance and economic development, while Dwayne Seymour becomes a minister in the PACT Cabinet, taking on Saunders’ former portfolio for border control and labour. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly becomes deputy premier, retaining the education, distract administration and lands ministries.

Kenneth Bryan, who retains responsibility for tourism and ports, has lost the transport portfolio, which has been transferred to Jay Ebanks, the minister for roads. However, Bryan himself recently stated that moving transport entirely into his colleague’s ministry would be a sensible move.

According to a press release from the premier’s office, consolidating traffic-related matters under Ebanks’ ministry will allow it to find comprehensive solutions to deal with traffic issues.

“I am looking forward to the results that Minister Hon. Jay Ebanks and his ministry will deliver, particularly in addressing current traffic issues now that all traffic-related functions are consolidated under a single ministry,” Panton added.

The premier said he had been carefully evaluating the government’s performance over the first two years, and the changes would “create better synergies and improve delivery of results in the PACT government’s stated priority areas”.

No changes have been made to Sabrina Turner’s ministerial responsibilities for health and home affairs. Bernie Bush retains the sport, youth and culture portfolios, and André Ebanks keeps financial services and responsibility for investment and social development With his advancement to the Cabinet, however, Seymour has given up the post of deputy speaker.

In a message on social media, Saunders said that after the brief meeting with the premier, it was clear their differences were such they could not work together, so he had resigned as a minister of Cabinet and a member of PACT effective immediately.  

Speaking to CNS, Saunders refused to say whether the differences were personal or political. He confirmed that he would be sitting as an independent on the opposition benches and would not be caucusing with the Progressives.

He said that in the best interest of the Cayman Islands, the differences should remain between him and the premier. “The political stability and the international reputation of the Cayman Islands are more important than those differences,” he said in a message to constituents. He said that being an MP for Bodden Town West was more important to him than being in Cabinet.

Saunders said he hoped his departure wouldn’t be used to destabilise the government and the country as he wished his former colleagues in the PACT Government the best, adding that he looked forward to working with them on the opposite side of the aisle in parliament. 

Panton also wished Saunders well and thanked him for his service and contributions to the government.

See the new Cabinet line-up in the CNS Library.

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Category: Politics

Comments (166)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks goodness he was sent to the back of the class. This guy’s ego is large and very concerning for a politician in power!

  2. Anonymous says:

    cantinflas 2nd parts, comedy show 🤣 and more than one ready to roll after Chris departure no more PPM, or other danm party

  3. Anonymous says:

    As long as those differences does not have anything to do with the covid vaccine and it been mandatory or electronic ID system or the freezing of caymanian status. Then I am good with the decision. We just need to find a replacement and Ms Julian was available.


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