Daniel Feetham has today confirmed his decision to step down as Leader of the GSD citing the impact politics has had on his family, particularly his wife and children.
“They must come first,” an emotional Mr Feetham told reporters at a conference at party headquarters.
Flanked by GSD MPs he reiterated that he will remain in Parliament as a GSD MP.
The GSD’s deputy leader, Roy Clinton, will step up as party leader on an interim basis until the permanent leader is elected, most likely after the summer.
Mr Feetham said he has yet to decide whether he will put his name forward to stand as an MP at the next election.
Setting out his reasons for stepping aside, Mr Feetham reflected on the repercussions on his family of the knife attack he suffered in 2010.
“This was an incident that had deep repercussions, repercussions and scars that have not healed,” he said.
“The reality is that in 2011 I should have chosen my family above my party.”
Mr Feetham had made no secret of his intention to stand down with the issue becoming one of timing and ensuring the stability of the party.
“I have given everything I can and I cannot give more,” he said. “Now is the time to think about Julia and my children.”
While the pressure placed on his family life was front and centre in his decision, he conceded that his authority had been seriously undermined by the actions of former GSD MP Lawrence Llamas.
After Mr Feetham had privately informed the GSD executive of his decision to stand aside, Mr Llamas announced publicly that he was resigning from the GSD.
He described Mr Llamas’ actions as “appallingly politically dishonest” and “stage-managed to cause the GSD maximum possible damage”.
Mr Clinton said Gibraltar owed Mr Feetham “a debt of gratitude” for his commitment to public life over so many years, which had gone “well beyond the call of duty”.
GSD MP Elliot Phillips said Mr Feetham had been “an extremely strong leader” whose absence at the helm would be a loss not just for the GSD but for Gibraltar as a whole.
Edwin Reyes, who has served alongside Mr Feetham both in government and in opposition, said he was “a true leader”.
“He has always led by example,” he said.
GSD MP Trevor Hammond was not present at the press conference because he is sick.
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