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Gorst ‘will decide on future after Christmas’

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CHIEF Minister Ian Gorst has declined to confirm whether he will stand for re-election next year – but he has revealed that a number of his ministerial colleagues will be standing down in May.

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The Senator, who said he will make a decision about his own future ‘after Christmas’, said it was an ‘open secret’ that a number of ministers and other States Members would not be seeking a return to the States next spring.

Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel is the only sitting politician who has publicly declared that he will not be standing next year. However, there are question marks over the political future of a number of ministers as speculation that some of the Island’s highest-ranking politicians may also be stepping down.

As previously reported, a third of Members have already confirmed to the JEP that they will be standing for re-election.

Senator Gorst said: ‘It is an open secret that there are a number of ministers and Members of the States who are not standing again.

‘The States Assembly is going to look quite different I think, whatever the electorate decide to do with those Members who are standing again.’

Asked whether the expected changes to the Council of Ministers is putting more pressure on his team in the next three to four months before the election, he added: ‘My constant mantra to ministers is get on and do what you want to achieve. In this job there is only ever today – you don’t know what is around the corner, get on and do the job that you can every day.’

And speaking at an Institute of Directors lunch on Thursday, Senator Gorst said that 2017 had been the ‘most difficult and yet most important year in my term of office’.

This year Senator Gorst has had to deal with the fallout from the controversial Jersey Innovation Fund, the recommendations of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry and in the summer survived a vote of no confidence.

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He said: ‘This is my last annual speech to you as Chief Minister in the current Council of Ministers – and with an election next year, who knows whether it will be me or a new Chief Minister here speaking to you in 12 months’ time.’

Opening his speech with a reflection on the past year, Senator Gorst said that the inquiry report had been ‘a shocking indictment of complacency and complicity’ and that it had been an important document for the Island.

He added that he was optimistic about the Island’s future economic outlook as well as about proposed changes to government structures and the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations.

‘We’ve come a long way from the fears that followed the global financial crash,’ he said. ‘It’s not been an easy ride, but it has been a journey of hope. Hope that’s based on experience and sound judgment – not on blind optimism. Hope that’s anchored in our determination to do what’s right for the Islanders of today and tomorrow, however difficult the decisions might be – not in what’s expedient for politicians. Hope that comes from demanding the best of people, not expecting the worst.’

Islanders will head to the polls on Wednesday 16 May next year.

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