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Former hospital rivals unite in bid to secure new Chief Minister for Jersey

Former hospital rivals unite in bid to secure new Chief Minister for Jersey

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Former hospital rivals unite in bid to secure new Chief Minister for Jersey

Tuesday 23 January 2024


The ex-Minister who successfully ousted Kristina Moore has confirmed that he is backing Deputy Lyndon Farnham in the race for the island's top political job – and that he is likely to be taking the reins on the hospital project again, should his preferred candidate get in.

Former Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet, who resigned from his role as he lodged the no confidence motion on 2 January, confirmed this evening that he would be backing Deputy Lyndon Farnham for the top job.

After ousting Deputy Kristina Moore, Deputy Binet had initially intended to stand for the top job himself, only to make an embarrassing miscalculation prior to the deadline for nominations about how many fellow members were supporting his candidacy.

Tonight, he confirmed in a statement that he would not be supporting Reform Jersey's Sam Mézec and fired a broadside at Kristina Moore and the majority of existing Ministers' preferred candidate, Treasury Minister and previous Chief Minister Ian Gorst.

"Preferring to paper over the cracks"

This, he said, was because "on too many occasions Deputy Gorst has failed to call things out and deal with them accordingly when he has known them to be wrong, preferring to paper over the cracks".

"Most recently, in the vote of no confidence, he sought to defend the Chief Minister, despite his own misgivings – but as soon as this attempt failed, he grasped the opportunity to put himself forward for the post, in open contradiction of recent statements that he had no intention of doing so," he added.

He said it would be hypocritical to support Deputy Gorst – who has the support of many current Ministers – after bringing the vote of no confidence.

Hospital alliance formed

Deputy Farnham served as Deputy Chief Minister in John Le Fondré's Council of Ministers, as well as political lead for the £800m Our Hospital plan to build a 'health campus' at Overdale – a project cancelled by Deputy Tom Binet as one of his first major acts upon entering government and becoming the project's head.

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Pictured: Deputy Binet did not agree with the project led by Deputy Farnham to create a 'health campus' at Overdale.

Despite previously differing views over the direction of health facilities in the island, Deputy Binet said that the pair were now aligned and keen to deliver the multi-site New Healthcare Facilities vision.

He said that Deputy Farnham had approached him with a "serious offer to assist him in shaping an improved future for the people of the island" and that a "great deal of common ground" had been established between the pair.

"With regard to the obvious potential stumbling block, the New Hospital, it is clear that Deputy Farnham accepts that the current New Hospital Facilities project is now the only way forward and that, henceforth, it will receive his full support – he has recently made a categorical statement to that effect," he added.

"Critically, in the event that his candidacy proves successful, he is extremely keen for me to return to the task of completing the project, and this I am happy to do."

Who is supporting who?

Whether Tom Binet's six supporters for the Chief Ministerial role follow him in supporting Deputy Farnham remains to be seen. The Members whose names would have been on Deputy Binet's form were his sister, Deputy Rose Binet, and fellow Deputies Andy Howell, Mary Le Hegarat, Moz Scott and Barbara Ward, plus Constable Mike Jackson.

States_Assembly_states_chamber_debate_members-2.jpg

Pictured: States Members will vote for the island's new Chief Minister on Thursday.

Deputy Farnham had six backers sign his nomination paper: Constables Simon Crowcroft (Assistant Chief Minister), Richard Vibert, Richard Honeycombe, Philip Le Sueur, Kevin Lewis, and Marcus Troy.

Deputy Gorst had 14 signatories, but several Ministers have declared their allegiance since, while Deputy Mézec had the support of his nine party colleagues.

There had also been speculation as to whether Reform Jersey might also work with Deputy Farnham, who yesterday told Express that he wanted to see a leadership team that was more "representative" of the wider States Assembly. The party has 10 members – or around one in five seats.

Deputy Farnham said it would not be "unreasonable" for Reform to hold Ministerial roles.

He described his relationship with Deputy Sam Mézec as "very sound", but added that "my political position is more centrist [than Deputy Mézec's], which would make support for his leadership slightly difficult."

Deputy Mézec is tonight appearing at the Town Hall to lay out his vision for the island to the public.

IN FULL: Deputy Binet's statement...

Further to the events of last week and following detailed discussions with Deputy Farnham, I have decided to support him in the forthcoming election for Chief Minister, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, as soon as it became clear that I was not to be a contender, he contacted me with a serious offer to assist him in shaping an improved future for the people of the island.

Much has been reviewed since then, and a great deal of common ground established. With regard to the obvious potential stumbling block, the New Hospital, it is clear that Deputy Farnham accepts that the current New Hospital Facilities project is now the only way forward and that, henceforth, it will receive his full support. Indeed, he has recently made a categorical statement to that effect.

Critically, in the event that his candidacy proves successful, he is extremely keen for me to return to the task of completing the Project, and this I am happy to do.

With regard to the other two candidates, whilst my relationship with Deputy Mezec is very sound, my political position is more centrist which would make support for his leadership slightly difficult.

Finally, Deputy Gorst. And here I must be a little more specific.

I have observed Deputy Gorst in a leadership role on two previous occasions and have now worked with him, quite closely, for 18 months. Whilst I would be happy to continue to work with him in his role as a fellow Minister, but I would not be prepared to work under his leadership. 

On too many occasions, Deputy Gorst has failed to call things out and deal with them accordingly when he has known them to be wrong, preferring to paper over the cracks.

Most recently, in the vote of no confidence, he sought to defend the Chief Minister, despite his own misgivings. But as soon as this attempt failed, he grasped the opportunity to put himself forward for the post, in open contradiction of recent statements that he had no intention of doing so.

Having been responsible for the recent vote of no confidence, it would be hypocritical of me to re-enter government knowing that I have no confidence in the new leader, before the new Government even commences. It would not be fair, or in anyone’s best interest. 

In recent weeks it has become abundantly clear that the island wants a government that will treat islanders with respect and address serious issues that have long been ignored or mishandled. I do not believe it wants to re-appoint Ministers who put retention of their own positions before the best interests of the island

I’ve no doubt that the public does not want more of the same, but if the Assembly decides otherwise, it will not be for me to further confuse the issue. 

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