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INSIGHT: Who has their eyes on the top job?

INSIGHT: Who has their eyes on the top job?

Wednesday 17 January 2024

INSIGHT: Who has their eyes on the top job?

Wednesday 17 January 2024


As the dust settles from yesterday's no confidence vote, which saw Deputy Kristina Moore ousted from her role as Chief Minister, the political conversation now turns to the matter of who will replace her... Here's everything you need to know about the key challengers...

But who are the main contenders? And what experience do they have?

Express takes a look at those likely to throw their hat in the ring...

The Challenger

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Elected for the first time last year, Deputy Tom Binet has carved out a brief (thus far) but eventful political career on the back of promoting himself as a straight-talking man of his word... so before he set off for the Chamber this morning it was no surprise that he confirmed that he would be seeing through his pledge to stand as Chief Minister if his vote of no confidence was won.

Ahead of joining the political fray, he was well-known for his work in farming, and campaigning around assisted dying and mental health.

His career journey is rooted in agriculture, working across production, sales and processing, and establishing relationships with major UK supermarket chains. That formed the basis of what became the Jersey Royal Company, for which he held the role of Managing Director from 2004 until the organisation was sold in 2014.

Although playing down his chances given the large amount of Members who were coalescing around Deputy Ian Gorst, after their support for Deputy Kristina Moore was not enough to save her, Deputy Binet confirmed again this morning to Express that he intended to put himself forward.

Having been clear that he would not be lobbying fellow Members to support his proposition, Deputy Binet conceded his approach would change as he embarked on his bid for the top job, with all candidates needing to attract support from backers.

After an acrimonious debate that became personal on several occasions, it remains to be seen whether enough Members would see Deputy Binet as the best candidate, with some privately expressing fears that he would be too divisive, with former ministerial colleagues not willing to serve in a Binet government.

Should he fail to be elected as Chief Minister, Deputy Binet said he was unable to say for certain whether he would be seeking to return to a ministerial role within weeks of resigning from the Council of Ministers on the first working day of the year.

"I've no idea – that would be something to consider at the next stage, if we get to that point," he said.

The 'Steady Ship'

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Pictured: Deputy Ian Gorst, a previous Chief Minister, confirmed after this morning's States Assembly meeting that he would put himself forward.

Favourite of ousted Chief Minister Kristina Moore – and, if bets were still being taken, the one a large chunk of Jersey politics enthusiasts would be putting their money on – is Ian Gorst.

A true 'unity candidate', Deputy Gorst has the 'safe pair of hands' factor, having previously worked in the top job, and even surviving a vote of no confidence in 2017 so will be able to argue, convincingly, that he can steady the ship through the choppy waters Jersey finds itself in.

First elected as a Deputy of St Clement and sworn to office in December 2005, he now serves as a Deputy of St Mary, St Ouen and St Peter. However, he has also held the title of Senator and is the current Treasury Minister and Assistant Minister for External Relations and Financial Services.

The latter remit also saw him heavily involved in the political back-and-forth between Jersey and France at the height of the fishing dispute. As Treasury Minister, he also delivered the 'mini budget' aimed at helping islanders through the cost-of-living crisis, and has been working on preparing the island for the MONEYVAL assessment which chart the course for the future success of the island's finance industry.

He voted to keep Deputy Moore in the top job, yesterday arguing that the situation "cannot be a good thing for our island’s political stability" – loyalty that she returned by confirming she would support him, even before he officially threw his hat in the ring, this morning.

"I have been gathering signatories throughout the day," he told Express outside the States Chamber this afternoon. "I am in the process of compiling my vision statement which will be published by the States Greffier later today."

The 'Reformer'

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Pictured: Deputy Sam Mézec, whose political party played a key role in the no confidence vote, has confirmed he will seek the top job.

The leader of Reform Jersey, Deputy Sam Mézec, has confirmed his intention to seek Deputy Moore's now up-for-grabs role as the head of Jersey's government.

His political party held a position of influence within yesterday's vote, something that Deputy Mézec made clear in the run-up to the debate - with the ten-strong group ultimately deciding to back the no-confidence motion put forward by former Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet.

Perhaps most well-known for his scrutiny of those in charge, it is worth noting that Deputy Mézec is no stranger to ministerial remits.

Under the previous government he once held the role of Children's Minister and later took on responsibility for Housing, when then-Chief Minister John Le Fondré decided to combine the portfolios - although he resigned from the position to back a no confidence motion directed at Deputy Le Fondré...sound familiar?

Anyway, Deputy Mézec - who was first elected to the States as a Deputy of St. Helier in 2014 and has also served as a Senator - confirmed to Express this morning that he is in the running for the top job.

You can read about his party's "New Deal" manifesto here.

The "Clean Sheet"?

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Pictured: Deputy Lyndon Farnham, who has confirmed he will seek the Chief Minister role, said he "would like to start with a clean sheet"

Once the politician who oversaw the ongoing project to build Jersey's new hospital, Deputy Farnham found himself in an interesting position yesterday - having previously levelled criticism at Deputy Binet's plans for healthcare facilities, while also having been on the receiving end of scrutiny from Deputy Moore when he was at the helm of the Overdale 'Our Hospital' project.

Also a former senator, he was first elected as Deputy of St Saviour No. 2 and sworn to office on 9th December 1999, making him one of the most experienced States Members on this list.

Under the previous government he was Economic Development Minister, the title currently held by Deputy Moore's Deputy Chief Minister, Kirsten Morel.

In an email to States Members today seen by Express, Deputy Farnham - now a Deputy for St Mary, St Ouen and St Peter - wrote: "Given the result of yesterday, I wanted to let members know that I have decided to allow my name to go forward into the contest for Chief Minister and that I have sufficient signatures to confirm my candidacy.

"As I said yesterday, I would like to start with a clean sheet and bring together a new team to work to heal the problems that we have faced. We do have only a little over two years to achieve this and I believe my political experience will be an important factor in achieving that objective.

"Should any members wish to discuss this with me, or any other issue please do not hesitate to let me know."

Who isn't running?

There had been some speculation as to whether Constable Andy Jehan – whose shock resignation from Kristina Moore's government preceded the vote of no confidence – might throw his hat in the ring.

But he confirmed today that he did not think it "appropriate" for a Constable to hold the role, adding that he had not promised his vote to any individual candidate yet either.

Three current members of government, Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, Social Security Minister Elaine Millar and Housing Minister David Warr, ruled themselves out of the running for Chief Minister this morning.

Deputy Renouf said that he would not be standing and was not yet able to say who he would be supporting for the role, as he did not know for certain who was running.
Asked whether he would be seeking to remain in government, Deputy Renouf said: "This will depend on who is Chief Minister, what kind of government they intend to form and what role they might wish me to perform."

Deputy Millar was also a "no" for the top job - she said she would be supporting another candidate but did not wish to say who until they had confirmed their position publicly.

She added: "I would like to continue as a minister. I am proud of what we have achieved in Social Security in the last 28 months and would be happy to continue in that role if the new Chief Minister supported that."

Deputy Warr was another to rule himself out as a candidate for Chief Minister, and said he was not yet prepared to say who he would be supporting. He said he was "absolutely" seeking to remain in his current role, should this be supported by the Chief Minister-designate after next week's election.

So, what happens now?

Any candidates intending to put themselves forward must put forward their strategic vision by 5pm today.

The Chief Minister must be selected within 7 clear working days, which means by Thursday at the latest.

A further meeting to select the new ministers will take place 2 clear working days after the Chief Minister meeting.

Nominations for the top role need to have been signed by at least 6 States Members.

The Chief Minister who is elected is not officially in the role until all ministers have been elected, meaning Deputy Moore remains as Chief Minister until that point.

After the ministers have been chosen, they may proceed straight to selection of other roles such as scrutiny positions, or possibly adjourn to another day.

Follow Express for all the latest updates...

READ MORE...

INSIGHT: Manoeuvring, “misogyny” and momentum... Snapshots of an "unedifying" debate

No Moore: Chief Minister ousted after historic no confidence vote

Shock resignation from Assistant Minister to back vote of no confidence

◆ BLOW-BY-BLOW: How the vote of no confidence debate played out

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