Virgin Islands (VI) Premier Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) said ahead of National Democratic Party (NDP) Member Hon Lorna G. Smith, OBE aligning with the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) to form the Government, the party had considered senior legislator Julian Fraser RA (R3) but negotiations fell through over the demands of Hon Fraser.
Speaking to JTV’s Cathy O. Richards on The Big Story aired April 26, 2023, the Premier said he had campaigned for the people of the VI to give a clear mandate for government, and the VIP was proven right with the 6 seats won in the house and the party with the largest number of seats.
Only path to gov't was through VIP - Premier
He added that with the National Democratic Party (NDP) and Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) each having three seats and the Progressives United (PU) with 1 seat, there was a real prospect of a coalition Government with the now opposition.
However, he believed that if any coalition government should be formed, it would be the VIP as the party with the most elected seats in the house as a clear mandate of the people.
“Of course Honourable Julian Fraser, we met with him, other parties met with him, and it became clear his demands were ones that, you know, many of the parties would not have been willing to accommodate.”
However, the Premier did not reveal what those demands adding, “I don't make a habit of disclosing any private or confidential meetings I have with anyone. I'll just leave it as saying that his demands were too great, and I don't think that the people at the Virgin Islands
would have been pleased,” he said.
The Premier said, however, he would not have been a part of Hon Fraser’s demands and believed that other parties felt the same.
“Outside of Hon Julian Fraser, there was no pathway to a government being formed, so anyone who wanted to form a government had to deal with the Virgin Islands
Party unless you concede to the demands of Fraser,” he said.
Hon Julian Fraser says the demand of VIP to make him Premier was not made to other opposition parties.
Demands were only towards VIP - Hon Fraser
Meanwhile, Hon Fraser during an April 17, 2023, joint press conference with the opposition has since disputed some of those claims by revealing that his demands were only towards the VIP to make him Premier ‘in no uncertain terms,’ however, he was willing to move ahead to form a Government with the other parties.
“When people on the street saying Fraser is the reasons and Fraser is that… its nothing further from the truth, and that is why we are not the government today, is because the National Democratic Party candidate has defected,” he said at the press conference.
Hon Fraser added that he never made demands of other parties namely PVIM and NDP on his role in a Government, however, was pushing for a meeting with all three now opposition Chairmans to discuss the way forward, which never happened.