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‘Puppets’! Vanterpool blasts gov’t ministers then retracts

‘Puppets’! Vanterpool blasts gov’t ministers then retracts

Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool was forced to retract a statement made in the House of Assembly (HOA) yesterday when he branded ministers of the Unity Government as puppets beholden to the United Kingdom (UK) governor.

Vanterpool was at the time making his contribution to the HOA’s debate on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report.

“Look at my government in front of me. Five members of the Cabinet—puppets!” Vanterpool said.

He continued: “Even though you might not like me saying that but it’s the truth. That’s what you are. I am going to speak the truth. They dare not go against the governor because they know what he [will] do or you know what he can do. So, you better lap your tail, you better lap your tail and snuck up. You know the truth. You better do what he says.”

Vanterpool repeatedly claimed that the government was under a dictatorship, with the governor acting as a dictator.

“People of the Virgin Islands wake up!” Vanterpool urged. “The Virgin Islands is, right now, being run by the governor as a dictator. I’m talking about the governorship, I’m not talking about the individual. He can get upset if he wants to. I don’t have a problem with that but he is operating right now as a dictator.”

At one point, Vanterpool, who previously said he will not be contesting the next elections, equated Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine to the UK’s threat to impose direct rule on the BVI if a framework agreement based on the COI report’s recommendations were not followed.

Vanterpool suggested that just as Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin made up a reason to invade the Ukraine, so too the UK made up a reason from the COI report to threaten the BVI’s status as a self-governing territory.

Amended motion


In the meantime, Vanterpool attempted to move a motion to change Opposition Leader Julian Fraser’s live motion to commence a debate of the COI report.

In the amendment, Vanterpool pleaded for a delegation to be sent to the UK to remove the main overarching COI recommendation — Recommendation A1 — which advocated for the temporary and partial suspension of the BVI’s constitution and the implementation of UK direct rule through the governor.

“I want to move a motion to add that this House regrets the recommendation in A1 as was made and wishes to appoint a delegation from this House to go to London as soon as possible to meet with the House of Commons leadership to reverse this order that was made on the Virgin Islands.

The Fourth District Representative had also proposed that heads of state of CARICOM, the OECS, and members of the United Nations accompany that delegation to help plead the BVI’s case.

Vanterpool, after calling for a brief recess to consult on his motion, returned to retract his suggestion and said the substantive motion brought by Fraser should be left as it was set out originally.

Retraction


Even as he made an about-turn on his proposed amended motion, Vanterpool also offered another retraction; this time suggesting that he should have never labelled the government as puppets.

“My comments about my good government that I’m part of, [referring to them] as a puppet government, I withdraw those comments because I respect my leadership and all the things that they try to do,” Vanterpool said.

Several government members, including Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley, later took umbrage to Vanterpool’s derisive label, arguing vehemently that there should be no finger pointing at this stage of the BVI’s journey.

“I want to thank the member for the Fourth for withdrawing the characterisation of us as puppets because we are not puppets. We are patriots. And I’m going to repeat that. We are are not puppets, we are patriots and we are leading the Virgin Islands through a transition,” the Premier said.

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