by Linda Straker
- PM refused to make Clement a member of Cabinet after March 2018 General Election
- Clement claimed he would not leave SGU to become a Member of Cabinet because of lower salary
- First time Dr Mitchell shared information about what led to Clement resigning from Party in 2019
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who is also the Political Leader of the ruling New National Party (NNP), has disclosed that his refusal to afford Tobias Clement the opportunity to become a member of Cabinet after the March 2018 General Election, is the reason why he resigned from the party and became Leader of the Opposition in April 2020.
This was the first time Dr Mitchell publicly shared information about the contention that led to Clement resigning from the Party in December 2019. Clement, who is an educator at St George’s University (SGU), first became a Parliamentarian after the 2013 General Elections, when he was triumphant in beating Nazim Burke who won the St George’s North East constituency seat following the 2003 and 2008 general elections.
Clement publicly claimed that he would not leave his job at the university to become a member of the cabinet because of the lower salary. Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure over the years have shown Cabinet ministers do not receive more than EC$70,000 per annum. The exception is the Prime Minister who receives EC$80,000.
Dr Mitchell informed the House that following the March 2018 General Election, Clement requested to be part of the cabinet as part of building his resume to become the Political Leader of the Party and Prime Minister of the country.
“He said to me that I am getting ready to leave Government and that he feels that he must be one of the persons to be considered to replace him as Prime Minister, and if he goes into the Cabinet then his position of becoming Prime Minister is possibly enhanced. I was shocked because you never knew the member had such ambition,” Dr Mitchell told the House.
Elaborating further, Dr Mitchell said that he informed Clement that he cannot put him the Cabinet at the time of the conversation, but will consider him in about one year after he proved that he was willing to be part of the team and not drifting off on his own. “I do not have confidence in your behaviour right now. Give a year, work and show me you have changed. Next thing I know is that the member is telling people I say I have no confidence in him,” the Prime Minister said.
Before receiving his instrument of appointment to be Leader of the Opposition, Clement was known to be one of the Government backbenchers who continuously raised concerns and objections about Government decisions, in his parliamentary presentations.