Smith leaves Cabinet; expected to resign as MP this week

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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MEMBER of Parliament for St Andrew North Western Derrick Smith has tendered his resignation from the Andrew Holness Cabinet.

Smith, in a letter to Prime Minister Holness dated January 11, 2018, said that it is also his intention to resign as Member of Parliament for the constituency he has held for 29 years.

The 74-year-old Smith, who was minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, said after 38 years as a parliamentarian and 29 years as MP for the seat now considered a safe one for the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), he thinks that it is time the constituency is “exposed” to a new generation of leadership.

“I am proud to have been allowed to serve the constituents of St Andrew North Western and, by extension, the people of Jamaica. Your leadership has revealed to me the possibilities that a new generation of leaders can offer to the political landscape. The time has come for me to stand and make way for the next generation,” Smith said in the letter, a copy of which the Jamaica Observer has obtained and which the PM received on the weekend.

He added that he believes the constituency's executive is fully capable of continuing the work and ensuring that the people are well represented, despite his departure.

“I entrust the three councillors, who have supported me throughout the years in different capacities, to continue to represent the constituents and their interests in Government.

“Thank you for the opportunities and the trust that you have invested in my stewardship as a Member of pParliament and a minister of your government. I will continue to be an ear of confidence and a voice of reason when so desired,” Smith, the former security minister and Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, said in his letter to the prime minister.

Sources close to the party have said that there will be three likely contenders for the largely middle class constituency.

Minister of Education, Youth and Information Senator Ruel Reid, Smith's son Duane, who is councillor for the Chancery Hall Division of the constituency, and executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority Audley Gordon have all expressed interest, the source said.

Yesterday, when contacted, Gordon said that he had no comment.

“That's politics. I'm not prepared to talk about that,” he told the Observer.

Calls to Reid's phone went unanswered.

In the meantime, Duane, who heads the largest division in the constituency, in a December interview with the Observer, said that he would subject himself to the delegates of the party whenever the time comes.

“Whenever it is that the current Member of Parliament decides to step down — I don't know when that time is — I will offer myself. What he has said is that he does not intend to contest another general election. It's no secret that he has had some major health challenges for the entire year and that, among other things, he has decided that he is not seeking re-election,” he said then.

Smith is expected to resign as MP later this week when he hands his resignation letter to Speaker of the House Pearnel Charles.

He has been ailing for some time now.

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