Tobias Clement Could Become Leader of the Opposition

Parliamentary Representative for the Constituency of St. George North East, Tobias Clement has dropped strong hints at Tuesday’s sitting of Parliament that he could be parting ways with the ruling New National Party (NNP) and sitting on the other side at the next session.

Tobias Clement – “I am at my wit’s end”

Clement who has been at odds with Prime Minister Mitchell in recent years used the sitting of the Lower House to express disappointment with the state of affairs in government especially the lack of separation of powers between the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature.

“Mr Speaker, I do not know, but maybe I should put this house on notice that probably when I come back here on another occasion, it might be from a different standpoint and that is really being contemplated by me today”, he warned House Speaker, Michael Pierre.

“Mr Speaker, you know I spent 10 years in Texas and one of the favourite games that we learn to play is Texas Hold Em, it’s a game of poker, a high stakes game. Mr Speaker I believe we are at the point now when I might just have to call that bluff”, he said.

The outspoken Clement raised issues at the sitting which took place at Parliament House at Mt Wheldale with problems that he was experiencing at the Constituency level, noting that he is “at my wits ends”.

There are unconfirmed reports that the Secretary hired by Clement has been fired by the party and replaced by someone sent from the NNP High Command.

Speculation is rife that the move is aimed at putting the party in charge of the affairs of the Constituency and the forerunner to putting in a replacement candidate for the next general election.

Clement is said to have annoyed the Prime Minister at a sitting soon after the party returned to power in 2013 when he launched an attack on persons sitting on Government side in Parliament who owed the Treasury thousands of dollars in outstanding taxes.

On the issue of problems at his own Constituency offices, Clement told Parliament, “I am almost feeling I am at my wit’s end because I do believe Mr Speaker in the separation of powers – you have the Executive Branch, you have the Legislative and you have the Judiciary and we are almost there as checks and balances to each other.

“…Mr Speaker, I rise today here with a profound sense of regret that I have to speak – that the way that our Parliamentary offices are being administered, that I have to call it into question. I do not know if it is St. George’s North East alone, but it seems like we are going through a very difficult and trying time and Mr Speaker that I may have to call this bluff”, he said.

Clement was quickly approached by reporters after the sitting to elaborate on his statements made in the sitting but his only response was “in time”.

Reporters then approached Leader of Government Business and Chairman of the NNP, Gregory Bowen for a reaction to what appears to be growing unease and tension between Clement and the party but he said the only advice he wanted to give to his Parliamentary colleague is to think about what he is doing.

“Yes, I heard the statement and I responded – just think carefully about what you are doing. As Chairman of the party I am privy to a lot of things and we are definitely trying to work with him,” he said.

Bowen acknowledged that the statements made by Clement in Parliament are suggestive of there being a rift between the party and himself, but stated that the party does not have any negative feelings towards him.




“Listening this morning, that is certainly what he portrays, but certainly not from the other side … but there may be certain other issues that Tobias may have…”, he said.

“…. But from his statement here, (it) definitely has to be looked into…first as Leader of Government Business, I will certainly be engaging him and asking him what is his intent,” he added.

If Clement carries through with his threat to cross the floor he would then become the Leader of the Opposition as the NNP currently controls all 15 seats in the Lower House.

In relation to problems being experienced at the Constituency level as alluded to by Clement, Minister Bowen said the St. George North East MP is at an advantage over other Members of Parliament.

“I think he is at a greater advantage than many of us with respect to resources and we know that he and (the) other member for St. Patrick West (Anthony Boatswain), they’re not members of the Executive and so let me tell you, we look after them more than we look after ourselves…”, he remarked.

According to Bowen, the Prime Minister hardly takes anything for his St. George North-west constituency and in some instances suffers as resources are often diverted away from him to serve other areas of the country.

“…In terms of resources, I can tell you that as the Minister responsible for Infrastructure that spends a lot … no constituency suffers and in particular that constituency (St. George North-east) receives its very fair share”, he said.

In a word of caution to Clement, Minister Bowen suggested that whatever problems are experienced by Members of Parliament should first be raised with the Strategy Committee of the party or the NNP Executive and this is something that Clement is fully aware of.

“The Honourable Tobias Clement is well aware of this because I contacted him on many occasions with respect to whatever issue you have – you meet and you sit and like I said that with our Political Leader and Prime Minister …. he has never refused to sit with any member of the party including Tobias Clement”.seats in the Lower House.

In relation to problems being experienced at the Constituency level as alluded to by Clement, Minister Bowen said the St. George North East MP is at an advantage over other Members of Parliament.

“I think he is at a greater advantage than many of us with respect to resources and we know that he and (the) other member for St. Patrick West (Anthony Boatswain), they’re not members of the Executive and so let me tell you, we look after them more than we look after ourselves…”, he remarked.

According to Bowen, the Prime Minister hardly takes anything for his St. George North-west constituency and in some instances suffers as resources are often diverted away from him to serve other areas of the country.

“…In terms of resources, I can tell you that as the Minister responsible for Infrastructure that spends a lot … no constituency suffers and in particular that constituency (St. George North-east) receives its very fair share”, he said.

In a word of caution to Clement, Minister Bowen suggested that whatever problems are experienced by Members of Parliament should first be raised with the Strategy Committee of the party or the NNP Executive and this is something that Clement is fully aware of.

“The Honourable Tobias Clement is well aware of this because I contacted him on many occasions with respect to whatever issue you have – you meet and you sit and like I said that with our Political Leader and Prime Minister …. he has never refused to sit with any member of the party including Tobias Clement”.

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