Leader of the Opposition (British Virgin Islands)

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Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition
Marlon Penn

since 28 February 2019
StyleThe Honourable
Term lengthWhile leader of the largest political party not in government
Inaugural holderQ.W. Osborne
FormationVirgin Islands Constitution Order, 1967 (Statutory)
Coat of arms of the British Virgin Islands.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the British Virgin Islands

The Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition in the British Virgin Islands (more commonly known as the Leader of the Opposition) is a politician who is appointed by the Governor who leads the political parties and elected legislators who are not aligned with the Government of the day. Under the Constitution the Governor is required to appoint a member of the House of Assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members of the House who are members of any opposition party whose numerical strength in the House is greater than that of any other opposition party, or if no such person exists, the member of the House of Assembly who in the judgement of the Governor is best able to command the support of the members of the House in opposition to the Government.[1]

Prior to the introduction of the current Constitution, which codified the position, the Leader of the Opposition by convention led the largest party which is not part of the government: where one party wins outright this is the party leader of the second largest political party in the House of Assembly. However, in 1990 Cyril Romney was appointed Leader of the Opposition as an Independent and in 1995 Walwyn Brewley was appointed despite leading the party with the third largest number of seats. The Leader of the Opposition is normally viewed as an alternative Premier.

On 28 February 2019 Marlon Penn was appointed as the most recent leader of the opposition.[2]


To date a total of fourteen people (all men) have served as Leader of the Opposition - over twice the number who have served as Premier or Chief Minister. Every person who has served as Chief Minister or Premier has also served as Leader of the Opposition at some point. No person has ever served consecutive terms as Leader of the Opposition. On four occasions has the Leader of the Opposition changed between elections: in 1977 (when Austin Henley died), in 1988 (when Ralph O'Neal left the United Party to join the Government), in 2017 (when Andrew Fahie ousted Julian Fraser as leader of the opposition Virgin Islands Party) and in 2018 (when a split in the ruling government party led to Ronnie Skelton becoming the leader of the largest non-Government party).

2015 deadlock and controversy[edit]

In 2014, whilst Ralph O'Neal was Leader of the Opposition he stepped down as leader of the Virgin Islands Party in favour of Julian Fraser. However O'Neal remained the official Leader of the Opposition under the Territory's constitution until he stood down in subsequent general election in June 2015. In that election only two members of the opposition Virgin Islands Party won their seats - Julian Fraser and Andrew Fahie. Subsequently Fraser and Fahie argued over who should be named as Leader of the Opposition;[3] Fahie believed he commanded majority support within the party and should take over as party leader following the general election defeat.[4] As the Constitution required that the Leader of the Opposition commanded a support of the "majority" of the opposition members,[1] and the only two opposition members disagreed, there was an impasse. Governor John Duncan gave the men a month to resolve their differences, but they were unable to do so, and eventually the Governor appointed Fraser as the official Leader of the Opposition.[5] Fahie would later oust Fraser as party leader, and would then be appointed as Leader of the Opposition in his stead.[6]

Leaders of the Opposition from 1967[edit]

Prior to 1967 politicians were not elected on a party political basis, and thus Leaders of the Opposition only came into being with the introduction of party politics and Ministerial rule after the 1967 general election.

The following is a list of the Leaders of the Opposition in the British Virgin Islands from 1967 to date.

Leaders of the Opposition in the British Virgin Islands[7]
Term Incumbent Party Notes
Start End
1967 1971 Q.W. Osborne VIDP
1971 1975 H. Lavity Stoutt VIP
1975 1977* Austin Henley VIDP
1977 1979 Oliver Cills VIDP
1979 1983 Willard Wheatley UP
1983 1986 H. Lavity Stoutt VIP 2nd Term
1986 1988** Ralph T. O'Neal UP
1988 1990 Conrad Maduro UP
1990 1995 Cyril Romney Independent
1995 1999 E. Walwyn Brewley CCM
1999 2003 D. Orlando Smith NDP
2003 2007 Ralph T. O'Neal VIP 2nd Term
2007 2011 D. Orlando Smith NDP 2nd Term
2011 2015 Ralph T. O'Neal VIP 3rd Term
21 July 2015 5 February 2017 Julian Fraser VIP
6 February 2017 21 December 2018 Andrew Fahie VIP
22 December 2018 25 February 2019 Ronnie Skelton PVIM
28 February 2019 Incumbent Marlon Penn NDP
* Austin Henley died in office in 1977.
** Ralph O'Neal left to join the Virgin Islands Party in 1988.

Party affiliations are as follows:


  1. ^ a b Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, article 70(2)
  2. ^ "Marlon Penn sworn in as Opposition Leader". BVI News. 28 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Two-man opposition deadlocked over leadership". BVI Beacon. 22 June 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ "Fraser Appointed Opposition Leader". BVI Platinum. 21 July 2015. [S]everal of the party's losing candidates have written to the Governor to support Hon. Fahie as the Leader of the Opposition.
  5. ^ "Fraser Appointed Opposition Leader". BVI Platinum. 21 July 2015.
  6. ^ "BREAKING NEWS: Fahie Appointed Opposition Leader". BVI Platinum. 6 February 2017.
  7. ^ "BVI election and information results 1950–2011" (PDF). BVI Deputy Governor's Office. p. 176. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 April 2014.