Independent legislator strengthens Jamaica government position in Parliament

 

She did not give a timeline for her pending resignation.

Haye-Webster, who became an independent MP in June after resigning from the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), made the symbolic walk across the floor of the chamber to the loud thumping of desks from JLP members.

But in a series of swiftly moving events, Hay-Webster sat on the government backbench, then told Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that she has begun the process of renouncing her American citizenship, then announced she was quitting the House altogether.

Hay-Webster, previously a long-standing PNP member, left the party after months of legal challenges by the JLP over her dual citizenship status. She was reportedly angered by how both parties had handled the matter.

Webster admitted that she was born in the United States but insisted that she never lived there and had never taken steps to swear allegiance to the United States, an act which would have made her ineligible to stand for Parliament under Jamaican law.

She declared that she is a Jamaican by virtue of her own act, as, in November 1988, she took an oath of allegiance to Jamaica and was issued a certificate of citizenship.

Her resignation surprised observers, many of whom were pondering her electability on a JLP ticket.

Late Monday, when it was rumoured that she was considering the move, one political commentator Paul Ashely said that she could prove to be a liability to the governing party as a general election approaches with a year’s time.

He said that it would be difficult for Hay Webster to win the South-Central St. Catherine constituency on a JLP ticket.

According to him, she is no longer considered a political heavyweight.

“I don’t think she has the political capital to jump ship and win for the other side. I think the constituency is organized not to the personality of a Sharon Hay-Webster…. It’s very difficult in the Jamaican political landscape to switch and  win you would have to have considerable political capital and indeed if we are going to go by her previous utterances she indicated that this was her last term,” Ashley said.

Another commentator, Kevin O’brien Chang, saw no significance in her joining the JLP, describing it as just another chapter of Jamaican political history.

“The JLP was cussing her, now they are hugging her up. PNP was hugging her up, now they are cussing her. I don’t think she is that different from Karl Samuda when he switched parties back in the early nineties,” Chang said.

“The JLP may say that she gives us a chance at a seat we didn’t think we could win because she knows the people and she is familiar with them. In political terms you might say this gives an edge to the JLP because this gives them a chance to win a seat they would not have thought of before,” Chang added.

There were reports that the JLP had discussed Hay-Webster’s candidacy during a weekly meeting of its Standing Committee on Monday night.

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