Golding draws ire of Gov’t MPs, prompts walkout in Budget Debate Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Opposition Leader Mark Golding drew the ire of the governing Jamaica Labour Party on Tuesday, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, when he made a statement about House Speaker Juliet Holness, who is also the wife of Jamaica’s head of government.

“When the former speaker was forced to resign as a result of an Integrity Commission investigation, the move to replace her with the wife of the prime minister, so that the head of Parliament is now the spouse of the head of Government, does not sit well with the tradition that the speaker must act independently of the government of the day,” Golding said.

As he attempted to press on with his contribution to the 2024/25 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives Tuesday, his statement riled up those on the governing side, with Holness leading them in a walkout.

In fact, the prime minister’s immediate reaction to Golding’s statement was to describe it as “desperate” and “low”.

Mrs Holness, who is also the MP for East Rural St Andrew, was installed as the House Speaker in September last year. At the time, the Opposition had seconded the move.

Just before Golding made the statement that prompted the walkout by the members of the governing political party, he was raising issues related to governance.

As a result, Golding, who was two hours into his speech, was unable to finish as, according to the Standing Orders, a sitting cannot proceed with fewer than 16 members. There are only 14 Opposition MPs, several of whom were absent.

Deputy House Speaker Heroy Clarke, who was occupying the speaker’s chair at the time, waited for the required five minutes to see whether any of the government MPs would return to the chamber but none did; he then called an end to the sitting.

Golding completed his presentation outside Gordon House on Duke Street in Kingston.

At a press briefing after the walkout, Golding said the walkout, led by Prime Minister Holness on Tuesday, has spoiled the Budget Debate and that the process has been “irreparably undermined” by their actions.

“I did not say anything offensive; I wasn’t rude,” Golding said, after pointing out that Holness made a terrible error and he allowed his emotions to determine his actions in the walkout.

It was perhaps an unprecedented walkout as Golding was making his contribution to the Budget Debate. The prime minister is scheduled to make his contribution to the debate on Thursday.

Watch the moment things got rowdy in the House of Tuesday, and Holness led his team out of the chamber.