By TANEKA THOMPSON
Tribune News Editor
GOLDEN Isles MP Vaughn Miller has joined the Progressive Liberal Party, nine months after quitting the Free National Movement to become an independent representative.
He made the revelation while giving a contribution in the House of Assembly last night on a resolution to extend the country’s state of emergency to October 31, a move Mr Miller said he does not support.
He said he decided to join the official opposition after much personal reflection and consultation with family and advisors.
“It has always been, Mr Speaker, my desire, my dream... to serve our great country and to make life better for other people, particularly the poor, the indigent, the marginalised, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden,” Mr Miller said.
“Mr Speaker, the people of the great constituency of Golden Isles have given me that opportunity.”
He referenced his decision in 2018 to vote against the government’s value added tax increase, which led to him being fired as a parliamentary secretary. He revealed that he is a cancer survivor, saying the disease took a financial toll on him. He said when he thought about voting against the VAT increase, he knew it would not be a financially wise decision because of the inevitable fallout. Still he said he made the decision based on his conviction.
Speaking about the move to join the PLP, he said: “I have been in constant conversation with my wife, I’ve spoken, Mr Speaker, to members of my family, constituents, church leaders, religious leaders and others.
“I’ve also thought and prayed long and hard. It has become extremely clear to me what I must do. It is time for me to do what I believe is best for me. Mr Speaker, I’ve been in conversation with the leader of the opposition and after careful reflection, I have decided, Mr Speaker, to join the Progressive Liberal Party.
“I spoke to the leader of the opposition about joining the PLP and sitting with his parliamentary caucus from now until the general election, offering to be the next representative of the great Golden Isles constituency as a Progressive Liberal Party member of Parliament. He assured Mr Speaker that he would welcome me into the party and into his caucus.”
In a statement released after Mr Miller’s announcement, PLP leader Philip Davis revealed the decision had only been formalised yesterday morning after previous discussions.
“I received a call this morning (Wednesday) from Vaughn Miller, the member of Parliament for Golden Isles,” Mr Davis noted. “He indicated to me that after months of reflection and prayer, and following extensive consultations with his wife, family members and his constituents, he had decided to join the Progressive Liberal Party.
“I have been speaking to him for some time. I think his experience mirrors that of many Bahamians, who wanted to believe the promises made by the Free National Movement in 2017, but who came to realise that this government has neither the intention nor the capacity to keep those promises.
“For many Bahamians, things have never been harder. We are a nation in crisis. Vaughn Miller could have chosen to leave public service, but instead he wants to work for change, and hope, and relief. As a young man in Green Castle, Eleuthera, he dreamed of helping people and building a stronger nation. We share the belief that when things get hard, you work even harder. I welcome him to the Progressive Liberal Party. There is a lot of work ahead. It’s an all hands on deck moment.
“On behalf of all of my colleagues in the parliamentary team, I welcome Vaughn Miller to sit with us in our caucus and to become a member of the party. I look forward to the work we will do together for the people of Golden Isles,” Mr Davis said.
Mr Miller quit the Free National Movement in December 2019, moments after he lambasted the Minnis administration for entering into a lease agreement with Town Centre Mall to house the General Post Office. The mall is partly owned by St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette. Mr Symonette was a sitting Cabinet minister at the time the lease was entered into.
At the time, Mr Miller was making a contribution during debate on a confidence resolution in Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly. The debate started as a vote of no confidence in Dr Minnis brought by Mr Davis, however it was amended to a confidence vote by the governing side.
Mr Miller was fired from his post as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Social Services in June 2018 for what the government said was breach of the Manual of Cabinet and Ministry Procedure.
Bain and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson was also fired as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine from his post as chairman of the Hotel Corporation for the same reason after they, along with Centreville MP Reece Chipman, voted against the VAT increase.
Mr Miller and Mr Chipman later became independent MPs. Mr Robinson remains in the FNM and was recently reappointed as parliamentary secretary. Mr McAlpine also remains in the party, despite his frequent criticism of the current administration.