Elliott Phillips was formally recognised by Parliament as the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, but insisted it was Keith Azopardi who would lead the GSD.
Speaker Adolfo Canepa told a meeting of Parliament that long-established convention was that the post of Leader of the Opposition was held by the MP on the opposition bench who commanded majority support from elected colleagues.
He said the GSD had informed him that Roy Clinton, who had held the post on an interim basis since Daniel Feetham stepped down last summer, had resigned as Leader of the Opposition after losing the GSD leadership election to Mr Azopardi last week.
But Mr Azopardi cannot hold the post of Leader of the Opposition because he is not an elected member of Parliament, leaving the role to one of the GSD’s elected MPs.
Mr Canepa said Mr Phillips had now been selected as Leader of the Opposition, and “accordingly, I now formally recognise him and congratulate him as such.”
In accepting the Speaker’s recognition, Mr Phillips stressed that it was Mr Azopardi who had been voted in democratically to lead the party.
“Mr Azopardi will lead the GSD,” Mr Phillips said.
However he acknowledged the Speaker’s comments as to convention and the role of the Leader of the Opposition, which he said he would discharge to the best of his ability.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo also acknowledged Mr Phillips’ appointment as Leader of the Opposition, “and therefore Leader of the GSD in the House”.
Mr Picardo also thanked Mr Clinton for his service as Leader of the Opposition, during which time “we enjoyed a combative on-stage and convivial off-stage relationship”, one that he hoped he would be able to continue with Mr Phillips.
Mr Picardo noted that Mr Phillips was the fourth Leader of the Opposition he had faced since becoming Chief Minister, “three in just one year”.
Images courtesy of Gibraltar Parliament