Daniel Feetham steps down as GSD leader
Daniel Feetham will today publicly announce that he is stepping down as leader of the GSD for personal family reasons.
Mr Feetham, who will remain in Parliament as a GSD MP, confirmed his decision to the Chronicle last night having first informed his MPs at a meeting on Monday and his party executive yesterday afternoon.
He declined to offer any further detail on his reasons but said he would explain them at a press conference this morning.
However a source close to the GSD said that Mr Feetham, in a statement read to GSD MPs by deputy leader Roy Clinton on Monday, had reflected on the impact of politics on his family.
Mr Feetham had made no secret of his desire to step down as leader, but the issue became one of timing and ensuring a solid succession.
Having appointed Roy Clinton as deputy leader, the timing was accelerated by the controversy at last week’s budget session after GSD MP Lawrence Llamas broke ranks with the party and voted in favour of the Appropriation Bill while his fellow MPs voted against.
By Monday Mr Feetham had decided it was time for him to step aside, the GSD source told the Chronicle.
But yesterday, in a further and dramatic twist just minutes after Mr Feetham had privately informed the GSD executive of his decision, Mr Llamas announced publicly that he was resigning from the GSD.
In doing so, he cited “stark differences” and a “loss of trust” with the party under Mr Feetham’s leadership.
Mr Llamas will continue in Parliament as an Independent MP and is the second elected member of the GSD to resign in little more than a year, following in the footsteps of Marlene Hassan Nahon.
In both cases, the two MPs centred their reasons for leaving on Mr Feetham’s leadership of the GSD, as had former GSD MP Isobel Ellul-Hammond before them.
“In recent months, it has become increasingly clear to me that my views and those of the GSD were set on worryingly and irretrievably divergent paths,” Mr Llamas said.
“Despite my continuing dedication to work in the best interests of this community, it has become apparent to me, and others in the party, that the GSD under Daniel Feetham appears to no longer represent the values and principles I identified with when I joined the ranks.”
“The mismanagement and ill-judged delivery of a number of recent initiatives has proved damaging for the party.”
“The political fallout from these various faux pas has placed a strain on the synergy and shared focus of the team, something that has been difficult to contain.”
The latest developments will raise questions as to the long-term impact on the GSD.
It will also fuel speculation as to whether Mr Llamas will forge ties with Ms Hassan Nahon, who hinted in a budget speech last week that she was looking to form a new political project for Gibraltar.
At the time of the budget vote, Mr Llamas told the Chronicle that his decision to vote in favour of the Appropriation Bill was not indicative of a deeper rift within the GSD.
However his statement last night left no doubt that tensions had been running deep.
After last week, he said it had become clear to him that his position as a member of the GSD had “been hard to justify”.
“It is now, in my view untenable under this style of leadership,” he said.
“It is, regrettably, another example of the GSD either recklessly or intentionally refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions.”
“To attempt to justify the vote against the Appropriation Bill by describing it as inconsequential is to miss the point entirely.”
“I supported the Bill for two main reasons, firstly, to say ‘yes’ to the spending on our public services, and secondly, for what is in my opinion our duty as parliamentarians to support a budget in a post-Brexit backdrop maintaining the caveat of my concerns on public borrowing.”
He added: “In the week since this matter emerged, the differences between the Parliamentary party and I have become so starkly apparent, there has been a complete loss of trust between all involved and I believe that I am left with no choice but to beat a new path as an independent MP and I have therefore, this evening, communicated my resignation with immediate effect to the executive of the party.”
Mr Llamas said he had worked hard to make a positive and constructive contribution to politics, and would continue to do so.
“I now look forward to continuing serving the community from my seat in Parliament, freed from the shackles of membership of a GSD, and I look forward to tackling the issues that I am passionate about, helping the people I am passionate about helping, and doing all this with the overriding objective of doing well by this community and its people first - everything else second,” he said.