FNM plans to sanction Key
Senior members of the Free National Movement (FNM) intend to impose “the most rigid disciplinary action” possible against Central and South Abaco MP Edison Key for his failure to support the party when FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis was suspended and removed from the House of Assembly on Wednesday, The Nassau Guardian understands.
However, expulsion from the party is off the table, according to senior FNM members who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity.
The plan is to raise the issue of Key’s actions at the next meeting of the party’s executive committee, according to one senior member.
The committee would then decide if it should ask Key to account for his behavior.
The Guardian understands that senior members will be pushing for a public apology from Key, at the very least, and requests for further disciplinary measures are possible.
The Guardian also understands that the manner in which Key responds to the party will likely determine how far senior members are willing to take the issue.
As party leader, Minnis has the power to call executive committee meetings whenever he chooses.
It is unclear if Minnis will call a committee meeting before the House meets again on Monday, but party officials are expected to deal with the matter “very soon”.
Another senior member of the FNM, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Key’s actions would “not go gently into the good night”.
“He is an FNM MP,” the FNM member said. “The Free National Movement as a party took a position. He decided he would do something else, so the FNM as an organization will deal with that.
“We don’t kick anyone out of the party, only PLPs do that.”
Article 53 of the FNM’s constitution states that the party’s executive committee can call for an investigation if a member “acted contrary to the interests of the party, its platform, policies, or principles”.
The Guardian understands that the FNM will also hold a strategy meeting before Monday to discuss the party’s next move after Minnis’ suspension.
Minnis offered little with respect to Key when contacted yesterday.
“I have no comment at this time,” Minnis said. “The FNM deals with its internal matters.”
The Killarney MP said he had not spoken to Key about his actions. Minnis added that after he was kicked out of the House he busied himself with planning an impromptu rally at FNM headquarters. He said he is now focused on the party’s trip to Abaco this weekend.
The FNM also plans to hold a walkabout in the Garden Hills constituency on August 24, an area represented by Major.
Minnis said it is a monthly practice for the party to visit each constituency and said the tour in Garden Hills had nothing to do with Major.
Key was the only FNM MP who did not stand to oppose a decision by Speaker of the House Dr. Kendal Major to name and suspend Minnis from the House for two consecutive sittings.
Key later told The Guardian that he is not concerned about any backlash from his party. He said he took a stand on principle, adding that it would have been “hypocritical” for him to support Minnis in the House.
“My reason for staying in the House is because I supported it [stem cell research],” Key told reporters after Minnis and six other FNM MPs were escorted out of the House by police.
“I thought it would have been very hypocritical of me to just get up and walk out of the House with the other crew.”
Key added: “I’m not going against the FNM. I would have been going against myself, my own conscience. I represent a constituency. The people sent me to the House to represent them and I will do it in all honesty, in sincerity regardless.”
Key said he does not fear any repercussions for his decision but added that he had “no problems” with the FNM. However, he was coy when asked if he would consider rejoining the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP).
“You never know what I’ll be doing. I stick with my wife,” he said.
Key resigned from the PLP in 2004.
This is the second time in less than a year that Key has taken a position contrary to his party.
Last November, he was the only FNM MP to vote in favor of the government’s amendment to the Constitutional Referendum Act, which made way for January’s gaming referendum. The other FNMs present in the House voted against the bill.
Minnis’ suspension came after he refused to withdraw comments he made during an earlier House sitting regarding the relationship between Prime Minister Perry Christie and Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard.
Major repeatedly asked Minnis to substantiate the claims or to withdraw them, although they were expunged from the House of Assembly’s records.
The House resumed the morning session after all FNM MPs – except Key. The stem cell bill was passed in the afternoon with the support of the governing side and Key.