If Craig Cannonier stepped down as Premier, the most likely choices to replace him are National Security Minister Michael Dunkley or Finance Minister Bob Richards. *File photos
If Craig Cannonier stepped down as Premier, the most likely choices to replace him are National Security Minister Michael Dunkley or Finance Minister Bob Richards. *File photos

As senior OBA figures huddle in a crisis meeting about the JetGate row, many islanders are wondering — what might happen next?

Rumours are rife that Premier Craig Cannonier — who turned 51 today — may resign or asked to resign.

Yesterday, in a major new development, the Bermuda Sun reported that American Nathan Landow and a group of real estate developers gave the Bermuda Political Action Club $300,000.

Earlier in the week, OBA chairman Thad Hollis said his party had not received any funds and would conduct an internal investigation in to where the funds went.

Last week independent journalist Ayo Johnson produced a report on Politica (www.ThinkMedia.com) that includes a string of allegations against the Premier in his dealings with Landow.

According to the OBA Constitution, today's meeting could only happen if six or more voting members of the Executive Committee requested one. 

 

So what are the possible outcomes of today’s meetings?

 

No change

The OBA members may be satisfied with the answers the Premier and others give them and back him to continue as party leader.

 

Cannonier resigns

The Premier may decide to step down, regardless of whether he’s in the right or wrong, to help deflect criticism from the OBA.

 

Cannonier loses a no-confidence vote

The party may decide to find out how many members still back him as leader. According to the OBA Constitution, this can happen with a simple majority at an extraordinary general meeting, or two-thirds at a caucus meeting.

If he loses a vote, the OBA would then vote for a new party leader. This person would not immediately become Premier as only the Governor can only appoint and remove a Premier. There may be some lag between a new party leader being voted in and that person being appointed Premier by the Governor.

 

Who could be the new Premier?

The most likely choices are Finance Minister Bob Richards or National Security Minister Michael Dunkley. Whoever loses would have to give the new leader their support. If that is too contentious, both sides could rally around a caretaker Premier to move them through this crisis point.

 

What are the chances of Parliament being dissolved, prompting a General Election?

Slim. One PLP MP put the figure at less than one per cent. The new OBA party leader would have to command the majority of support of Parliament. If Premier Cannonier resigns completely from Parliament, the OBA would hold 18 of the 35 seats and would need every OBA MP to rally behind the new leader. If there are any defections, they would then need to bolster their ranks with the addition of someone else, most likely either the Speaker of the House Randy Horton or independent MP Terry Lister (a former PLP Cabinet Minuster). While the Speaker would have a reason to do so to help keep his position, the OBA would most likely to have to offer Mr Lister a Cabinet position if they needed his vote. 

 

Might a coalition government be formed?

Highly unlikely in view of the bitter personal and political divisions exposed in recent weeks and months.