Bermuda Premier sacks two ministers in Cabinet reshuffle

Premier David Burt has sacked two of his Cabinet ministers in a shake-up following his victory in a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) leadership battle against Curtis Dickinson last week.

Out are Youth, Culture and Sport Minister Dr Ernest Peets, who sits in the Senate, and Transport Minister Lawrence Scott, who initially said he planned to run for the PLP’s deputy leadership role before ruling out a challenge.

Owen Darrell, the Premier’s chief of staff, was sworn in at Government House on Thursday to be the new Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport. He will also become the government’s leader in the 11-member Upper House.

Scott’s portfolio has been handed to Wayne Furbert, whose Cabinet Office ministerial responsibilities will now fall to Vance Campbell, who also remains as Minister of Tourism. Burt said Peets and Scott would continue to work with the government from outside of the Cabinet.

“I look forward to their service in continuing to advance issues that are important for the people of this country,” he said.

He spoke of Darrell’s “strong background” in education and work with Bermuda’s youth as factors which made him an ideal candidate for the role.

“I have no doubts that he will bring his talents and energy to bear in the mission to preserve and celebrate Bermuda’s culture, promote awareness of our history and cultivate local sporting talent to greater arenas of success,” Burt said.

He also said the changes would reduce the size of the Cabinet from 13 members to 12 and cut costs during a time of economic challenge — Bermuda’s national debt currently stands at US$3.35 billion.

Burt denied that Scott’s public consideration of running for the post of deputy leader played a part in his exit from the Cabinet.

“Making Cabinet changes is very difficult and it’s incredibly difficult when you have the largest parliamentary group in PLP history,” he said. “That is a challenge, but I don’t view it as anything other than being the captain of a team.”

Scott’s father Alex, who served as premier between 2003 and 2006, said after Burt defeated Dickinson, a former Minister of Finance, by 97 to 56 in a delegates’ vote, that Burt needed to appear less like an autocratic.

Regarding Burt’s leadership style, Scott told the Royal Gazette newspaper: “He has been deemed to be somewhat autocratic in that regard.

“He should listen more, and act as best you can to create a broad tent.”

His advice for Burt was: “Don’t dismiss the people who voted against you — 56 of them — but try to understand the message they are giving you.”

Home Affairs Minister Walter Roban retained his post as PLP deputy leader in the face of a challenge by former National Security Minister Renée Ming, winning by 96 votes to 55.

Burt, who says he plans to step down as leader in 2026, led the PLP to huge victories over the One Bermuda Alliance in 2017 and again in 2020 and the party now holds 30 of the 36 seats in the House of Assembly.

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