In a somewhat surprise announcement in the House of Assembly today, former Premier, One Bermuda Alliance and United Bermuda Party (UBP) MP, announced his retirement, after 27 years/

The MP for Devonshire South, which he gained in a by-election under the UBP, and now in the Constituency of Smith’s North, told his parliamentary colleagues that he has decided to step down.

Mr Dunkley, who is now 65, said that it was “a very difficult decision” to step out of Bermuda’s political arena at the end of this month.

“This had not been an easy decision.”

In fact, he said it was “a very difficult decision”.

“Serving Smith’s North, Devonshire East and Devonshire South over many years has been an honour and a privilege.”

Calling Smith’s North his “extended family”, he also thanked his wife, his mother and family for their “enduring support and advice”, along the way.

“I will miss being on the doorstep and will miss those relationships,” said Mr Dunkley.

“I have been blessed to serve for many years and honoured to be the twelfth Premier of Bermuda.”

Mr Dunkley, who heads up Dunkley’s Dairy, was 38 when he ventured into politics, in a by-election prompted by the resignation of the late David Saul, the former UBP Premier and MP for Devonshire South.

He served as Premier from 2014 to 2017 and said some of the main highlights include Bermuda’s successful bid to host the America’s Cup and ringing the opening bell on Wall Street for the Risk and Insurance Management Society.

Mr Dunkley thanked his family, his family at Dunkley’s and his wife, saying: ““I have worked tirelessly in service and am proud of that service.”

But he said: “In my time, I have seen less reaching across the aisle and more time spent in making sure one gets re-elected.

“In my time, I have seen more importance placed in the party than the importance of Bermuda,” he added.

“This cannot continue. We must do better.

“The Government does not like to hear this — but the reality is that many in Bermuda are struggling like never before, emigration is occurring like never before and many lack confidence in the future.”

In light of the challenges that lie ahead for Bermuda, he said issues like full membership in Caricom or independence only served as mere distractions.

Despite stepping down from politics, he vowed to remain available to assist the country.

In closing, he said: “Thank you, and may the good Lord continue to bless and guide this Chamber and our island home.”

Full statement

I rise to inform this Hon House and the people of Bermuda of a very difficult decision I have made.
Effective March 31st this year I will retire as the Member of Parliament representing the people of Smith’s North and Bermuda.

This has not been an easy decision.

Serving Smith’s North, Devonshire East and Devonshire South over many years has been an honor and a privilege.

I have enjoyed working for the people and working for a better Bermuda.

Smiths North has become my extended family. I will miss being on the doorstep and will miss those relationships.

I have been blessed to serve for many years and honored to be the 12th Premier of Bermuda.

While representing our people and island overseas whether it was for the announcement of our successful bid in hosting AC 2017, ringing the opening bell on Wall Street or at RIMMs I wore the flag with pride and endeavored to spread the word about this wonderful island.

It might seem strange to some but I will also miss this Chamber. While at times the behavior can be suspect, I have developed an affinity for this place and the important debates through the years.

It is an honour I will always treasure in being entrusted with speaking on behalf of the constituencies I have served and for Bermuda. I have appreciated the value of always being prepared and the importance of speaking, even if the message might be contrary to many in the Chamber. That is the importance and strength of a healthy democracy.

Thus my difficult decision.

On the other hand for 27 years, in some aspects, public service can be a toll on one’s family or business.
I am grateful to our family at Dunkley’s for understanding my commitment to public service and helping to cover in my absence, especially my brother Stephen who is one of my biggest supporters and has had to cover so much at work while I was preoccupied with service.

Most importantly, I am most grateful to my wife Pamela, my mother and my family for their enduring support and advice. It is not easy for a spouse of an elected official and I am so blessed and grateful to my boss Pamela for her understanding and support. She is a true angel and now we can enjoy Friday nights together!

I remember when it was first suggested I enter politics, I asked my wife and she said our children were young and perhaps it was not the right time. She went on to say that it was my decision and whatever one I made she would support me.  

The rest is history. Today our two beautiful daughters are married and we are blessed with two grand children and another one the way.

The best part of any day is to spend time with them!

I would also like to thank my Smith’s North Branch for their support and assistance, all of us in this Chamber appreciate the value of a good branch and it is hard to get elected without one. I have been blessed through the years to have great branches and good people helping through the process.

There are so many people to thank and I do not have the latitude to thank them tonight but one final thank you is to my Friday prayer warriors who prayed every Friday for me and then reached out to chat. This has been a tremendous boost and a source of comfort.

Time waits for nobody and recently listening to a senior member of the US Senate when he said ” father time is undefeated” it confirmed my tough decision to retire.

I am looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren and family.

I have worked tirelessly in service and am proud of that service. While there have been a few regrets along the way I did my best to serve all people with honesty and integrity helping to make Bermuda a better place.

Bermuda today, for all the good that has been done to progress the island, still has significant challenges to face. If we fail to tackle them head on we will fail to build a better future for our people and the coming generations.

If we fail to work together or take partisan positions we will fail our people and the coming generations.
In my time I have seen less reaching across the isle and more time spent in making sure one gets re- elected.

In my time I have seen more time and effort spent on bashing the “other side” than on working on what’s works best for Bermuda.

In my time I have seen more importance placed in the party than the importance of Bermuda.
This cannot continue. We must do better.

It is obvious that people are tired of partisan politics and, as we live in difficult times with many of our fellow islanders struggling or emigrating, we must change and do better.

The Government does not like to hear this but the reality is that many in Bermuda are struggling like never before, emigration is occurring like never before and many lack confidence in the future.

Yes IB and associated businesses are doing well and that foundation helps the island greatly but we must not overlook the challenges I just mentioned and the critical need to deal with them!

That means actually working on these issues and not being distracted by issues such as a full membership in Caricom or Independence! My take is that Bermudians are not interested in these at this time!

I will remain available to assist in anyway that I can in support of Bermuda and our people.

I love Bermuda and our people and while I will no longer be a Member of Parliament after March 31st, my desire to make it a better place for future generations will not wane. I will remain available to help when requested.

I will always be available to help Bermuda.

Thank you and may the Good Lord continue to bless and guide this Chamber and our island home.