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The leader of the main opposition in Bermuda, Cole Simons. (CMC Image)

Bermuda: Opposition Leader withdraws remarks

February 26, 2023

The leader of the main opposition One Bermuda Alliance (OBA), Cole Simons, has withdrawn remarks that sparked a row in parliament after he accused Premier David Burt of being out of touch owing to the “growth of his personal wealth” in recent years.

Simons, came under fire from legislators in the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) government  after he made the comments on Friday in his Reply to the Budget.

Simons later withdrew the statement after being directed to do so by Dennis Lister, the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

The OBA leader sparked criticism when he said: “When it comes to the accumulation of wealth in Bermuda, the Premier’s bullish and sunny outlook for our economy next year may have been driven by the growth of his personal wealth, but for the average working-class person and even members of this honourable House, they have not seen or enjoyed the same accumulation of wealth during the last 10 years.”

When the session resumed after lunch, Simons withdrew the remarks, telling legislators : “There was no ill intent in my comment.”

Premier of Bermuda, David Burt. (CMC Image)

Referring to the Premier, who is also Minister of Finance, Simons said: “He may be doing well, but others aren’t.”

Lister told the House: “I spoke with him during the break, he acknowledged the intent did not come across in the way that he intended, and he wished to clean it up.”
The Speaker added: “I remind members that our tone should always be one that stays on a higher ground, rather than a lower ground.”

During the break in the parliamentary session, Simons told the Royal Gazette newspaper: “I may have said it incorrectly, but all I meant was his life may be going on well, where other people are struggling.”

Minister of Economy and Labour Jason Hayward criticised Simons over the way he phrased the withdrawal of his comments to the legislators. 

He said that the Opposition Leader’s remarks were “beneath” the standards of the House of Assembly.

Burt, 44, became Bermuda’s youngest premier at the age of 38 when he led the PLP to victory over the OBA in the 2017, ending the OBA’s one term in office, and secured an even bigger mandate after calling a snap election three years later.

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