Hon. Minister for Border Control and Labour Dwayne ‘John John’ Seymour has abruptly resigned from the PACT (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent) coalition government.
In an unexpected statement during Friday sitting of the Cayman Islands Parliament, Mr Seymour suggested that unspecified developments ‘last night’ (Thursday night) was the final straw for him in what he described as a government plagued with internal divisions.
He was particularly severe in his criticism of the leadership of Hon. Premier Wayne Panton.
“I hereby tender my resignation as minister and the PACT government effective immediately. Since being elected in 2009, never have I experienced such disorganisation and lacklustre leadership,” the now-former minister informed a shocked nation.
Mr Seymour, the MP for Bodden Town East, served as Minister of Health in the previous PPM (People’s Progressives Movement) administration under former Premier (now Sir) Alden McLaughlin but crossed the floor shortly after the PACT coalition came into office.
“I honestly crossed the floor in November 2021 in order to assist this government and to lend my experience further. It was an attempt to give the country some calm and assurances.”
But in an excoriation of the leadership of Premier Panton, he declared: “In my opinion, the autocratic way and manner in which the Premier of this country leads his caucus leaves me much to be desired. It is my experience that it is his way or no way. The Premier's failure to adequately engage and empower the civil service, his inability to keep his PACT group cohesive and focused, his inability to get the 2024 2025 budget completed in a timely and consultative manner, his inability to listen and his inability to show fairness to all of his caucus are untenable.”
Reading from a prepared statement, he laid the blame for his decision to quit squarely at the feet of Mr Panton.
“In my respectful opinion, our country needs leadership that has this entire caucus support and one that our constituents can feel proud and inspired. The Premier must ensure people-centred government and provide hope for our people during these challenging times.”
Mr Seymour has now returned to the Opposition benches, pledged to continue his services to his Bodden Town East constituency and the wider Cayman Islands community as an unaligned independent Member of Parliament.
“Please accept my assurances that in spite of this resignation, I am fully and deeply committed and remain passionate about serving my country as a Member of Parliament and I am willing to continue to serve faithfully in a similar capacity for the benefit of our country and beloved people. May God continue to bless these Cayman Islands. Madam Speaker, I want to assure the people of Bodden Town East that my normal way of any major happenings I would call a public meeting. Some of these things are emergency in nature and I apologise I was not able to come to you and ask for your Honorable support.”
Appearing to switch to notes, Mr Seynour continued: “I’ve searched my heart and I'm confident that this is the right decision. I came over here with great intent. I came over here and immediately I had a confidence vote to ensure that the government remained intact and that they had a chance to prove that there was a hope that the people wanted. I contribute. I'm not silent. The country needs a breath of fresh air. The most unlikely the most unassuming John John. I am most disappointed. Of all the things that I thought that this government would have achieved. Putting a bunch of independents together is what the country at the time thought they wanted. It’s for the country to decide how we move forward in the next election, whether it is parties or independents. I’ve run as independent twice.”
The MP for Bodden Town East went on to lament what he felt were missed opportunities by the PACT coalition government.
“So much we could have achieved; housing, cost of living etc. There's nothing personal. It's always about country for me. I have some great friends on this side. There's some great people on the side. There are some people who are new to politics. There's some people who are new to politics and some who could mature to the position of Premiership, and I say that with great respect. We have so much to do for people but it's taken a toll on everything. It has taken a toll on me and I have to divorce myself from it.”
It what appeared to be the only hint of what might have triggered his sudden resignation from the PACT coalition, Mr Seymour referred to unspecified events of the previous night.
“What happened last night was the final straw,” he stated adding a statement of support for the the Cayman Islands civil service.
“I just want to say that the civil service, they are people too and they deserve respect as they not only do an awesome job but they are Caymanians. If you start wrong, Madam Speaker, it will end wrong. This is not my first rodeo with this and it's never easy. Our people want hope and we need to inspire them to believe we are the right ones for this time.”
In conclusion, Mr Seymour said he prayed hard before making his decision and is convinced that quitting PACT was the right thing to do.
“I prayed about this very hard. Some will be happy, some will be sad but I believe God is in our midst. I've searched my heart and I believe this is the right decision. Let’s move this country forward. The country deserves this breath of fresh air.”
Mr Seymour became the second member of the PACT Cabinet to demit office, the other was former finance minister Chris Saunders earlier this year.
It’s unclear at present how this will now impact the parliamentary arithmetic and support across the Government and Opposition benches of 19 members.
(More to come)