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Smith going

Ailing Gov't MP to resign

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, January 13, 2018

MINISTER without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation and Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew North Western, Derrick Smith, is expected to formally announce his resignation from the House of Representatives next week.

Smith's family and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) colleagues have been tight-lipped about the resignation, but his son and likely successor in the constituency, Councillor Duane Smith, confirmed yesterday that he would make a public announcement next week.

The leadership of the party was engaged in a three-day Cabinet retreat, which ended at Jamaica House last night, and could not be contacted for reactions.

Smith's departure, however, had become a matter of speculation over the past months, as his attendance at meetings at Gordon House had grown fewer, and the party's chief whip, Everald Warmington, has been handling the position of Leader of the House.

The Jamaica Observer understands that while Smith, who is 74, has kept his decision close to his chest, he met with his constituency leadership in Pembroke Hall, St Andrew, on Thursday and informed them of his decision.

Jamaica's MPs are required to formalise their resignation from Parliament by handing in a letter to the Speaker of the House. The last two MPs to resign were former prime minister and MP for St Andrew South Western Portia Simpson Miller and her former finance minister and MP for St Andrew Southern, Dr Omar Davies who left representational politics mid-year. Both were members of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP).  

Smith became a Member of Parliament in 1983 when the PNP refused to compete in a snap general election called by former JLP leader Edward Seaga, that year. He represented Kingston West Central, defeating an independent candidate V G Smith.

He switched to St Andrew North Western in 1989 and defeated the PNP's Dr Jepthah Ford by a 51.1 per cent to 49.9 per cent margin. But that was the closest any competitor came to defeating him, as he went on to widen the margins significantly over the next seven elections and has never lost at the polls.

Smith served as minister of national security and later as minister of mining and technology in the 2007-2011 JLP Administration.  

Smith, a businessman, was born November 27, 1943 in Kingston, and was educated at Calabar High School and the College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the University of Technology, Jamaica.

 In 2005, he was conferred with the Order of Distinction, Commander Class, for his service to representational politics.

 He is a past president of the West Indies Jaycees, the Jaycees of Jamaica, and the St Andrew Jaycees.