Vaz demands a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from Golding on ‘UK citizenship’ Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

While President of the People’s National Party (PNP) and Opposition Leader, Mark Golding, has responded to questions surrounding whether he holds British citizenship, stating that he is a “born Jamaican” with a Jamaican passport, he has not explicitly denied or confirmed whether he still holds British citizenship.

Since his response on social media on Saturday, the heat has continued on the absence of a precise position in his posting.

Golding’s response came after Transport Minister Daryl Vaz and St Catherine South Western Member of Parliament (MP) Everald Warmington were among a number of mainly Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters who called on him (Golding) to clarify if he is a British citizen.

This follows Golding’s suggestion on Tuesday that the ongoing constitutional reform process should reconsider the current rule of barring certain members of the Jamaican diaspora from sitting in the Jamaican Parliament.

“My position is that dual citizenship should not be a bar to service. That’s my own view, and I think the party (PNP) will continue to have discussions on this.

As I’ve said, this issue, we’ve (the PNP) not had an opportunity to discuss it because we did not know what the specific reform proposals were,” said Golding then.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday, the PNP president responded to the growing questions surrounding his own citizenship.

“I am a born Jamaican and have a Jamaican passport… I’ve never hidden the fact that my father, who came to Jamaica from the UK, had got me a British passport when I was a young child,” Golding wrote.

“From before first serving in Government, I travel on my Jamaican passport when I go abroad. Like other Jamaicans, I apply for visas from countries such as the US and UK to go there,” he added.

In taking what appeared to be a swipe at his political opponents, Golding wrote: “I man born yah, but the (recent) local government elections and recent polls seem to be driving some to grasp at straws.”

Turning to the issue of constitutional reform, the Opposition leader called for the reform to align with what he cited as the realities of the Jamaican experience.

“Jamaica is in the Commonwealth and our current constitution requires Commonwealth citizenship (and at least one year’s residence in Jamaica) in order to be eligible to be a parliamentarian (locally).

Everald Warmington

“Over the years, parliamentary candidates with Commonwealth passports have therefore legitimately participated in general elections to become MPs, and sat in the Senate,” Golding stated.

“On the other hand, the current constitution prohibits non-Commonwealth citizens (who have pledged foreign allegiance) from being parliamentarians.

“The constitutional reform process should reconsider the current rule and make it accord with the realities of the Jamaican experience,” he concluded his post without elaborating further.

Vaz responded on Saturday to Golding’s post the same day, saying, “Lol. ARE YOU A BRITISH CITIZEN…? 3 or 2 letters (‘yes’ or ‘no’) can clear this up”.

He added: “One whole essay to repeat what your team has already been saying”.

Other users of the X platform have also been chiming in on the matter, and many also had further questions for Golding.

“Have you renewed the British passport your dad gave you as a child? If you have a British passport, why are you applying for visas to the UK?” a man asked.

“Unless you’re referring to the diplomatic stamps,” the man added.

A woman asked: “Can a non-citizen obtain a (British) passport? Interesting”.

In response, a man stated that, “Non-citizens cannot hold a passport of any country of which they are not a citizen. Unless it’s fake, then that’s a whole other matter. That one is above me.”

Shared another man on X: “For a lawyer who knows better, this is full of deflection.

“What is needed is independently authenticated documents given to the media. That’s it,” he suggested.

A female social user said: “Sir Golding, I believe the question has not been answered.

“A few years (ago), our democracy was taken to task over dual citizenship. Are you a citizen of the UK? The skipping around did not get us the answer the country is asking (for).”

Still, a man believed that the questioning of Golding on the issue is unfair.

“For me, Mr Golding has answered the question. He is a Jamaican. Full stop. Why are we so political in this country? Even if he was a dual Commonwealth citizen, he has broken no law. Vaz, on the other hand, like some others, held US citizenship – a non-Commonwealth country – and the court ruled that unconstitutional,” he argued.

The comment was in reference to the PNP’s stance on dual citizenship following the 2007 General Election.

The PNP, then in Opposition, had lobbied to have several JLP MPs with dual citizenship removed from Parliament.

The applicable parliamentarians were Vaz, Warmington, Gregory Mair, Michael Stern and the late Shahine Robinson, who were all involved in subsequent by-elections to regain their seats in Parliament.

Mair, Vaz, Stern and Robinson were all removed as parliamentarians by court actions, after which they renounced their foreign citizenships, contested the court-ordered by-elections, and regained their seats.

Warmington resigned as MP in March of 2011, due to the fact that when he was nominated, he was a United States citizen. He would later go on to win a by-election for the St Catherine South Western seat the following month.

Last October, Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, revealed that the Constitutional Reform Committee (CRC) had considered matters relative to qualifications for membership in Parliament.

“There is consensus among committee members that at a minimum, Jamaican citizenship, not Commonwealth citizenship, should be the qualifying citizenship for membership in the Parliament of Jamaica,” she said then.

She stated that a test of allegiance was being proposed as necessary for persons who hold dual citizenship, but who wish to serve in the Jamaican Parliament.

“A test of allegiance was, therefore, seen as necessary in resolving any contention that may arise from conflicting allegiance.

“The committee considered it important to design the rules on eligibility with sufficient flexibility to attract the best public servants to produce the best outcome for our nation,” the minister stated last October.

The CRC report on its final recommendations regarding parliamentarians with dual citizenship has not been disclosed publicly.