Outlining his intention to stand, he called for continuity in government in the face of the challenges posed by Brexit, the reform of the public sector and the fallout of the damning Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report.
But despite seeking another four years in the top job in politics, he has confirmed that, if successful, the next term would be his last, saying: ‘Ten years is enough for anybody.’
At the last general election in 2014, Senator Gorst topped the poll before being returned to the role of Chief Minister unopposed when an expected challenge from Senator Alan Maclean never materialised.
This year he will compete for one of eight Senatorial seats and, if returned to the House by voters, will seek re-election to Chief Minister from the 49 States Members.
However, he could be challenged by at least one other Member – Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham, who has already indicated his intention to stand for the Chief Minister’s job should he be re-elected.
Senator Gorst admitted the past term has been his ‘most difficult’, with controversies around the inquiry report, the much-criticised handling of the Jersey Innovation Fund and uncertainty around the new Hospital all leading to pressure on the Council of Ministers.
‘A lot of work has been started which I would like to see to completion. In this past year – post the care inquiry – we have seen the need to do a total review of how we are serving the public.
‘That report told us very clearly that in a number of areas we have been found wanting and we need to change the way we focus on the public,’ he said.
‘We have started to make really good progress and I am more optimistic than I ever have been that we can deliver for Islanders and restructure the service.’
Senator Gorst was first elected to the States as a St Clement Deputy in 2005 before becoming Senator and Chief Minister in 2011.
‘This job is perhaps most difficult on one’s family,’ he said. ‘The decision [to stand] is one I have made with my family.
‘After six-and-a-half years it would have been easy for me to say “That is enough”. It is a great privilege to serve Islanders in this role but if I am successful I will have been doing this job for ten years and I think that is enough for anybody.’
He said that Jersey was currently in a strong position economically but that shouldn’t be taken for granted as the Island navigated its way through Brexit.
Senator Gorst also added he would look to push ahead with States reform as it has been an issue that has been ‘rumbling away since at least 2000’, and he suggested there were too many States Members in the current 49-seat Assembly.
One issue that is likely to dominate hustings debates is the £466 million hospital project, although Senator Gorst said he hoped the updated plan – following initial planning rejection – would find favour with the public and the Planning Department.
With several senior politicians already declaring they will not seek re-election and speculation that more may follow, the Chief Minister expects the make-up of the Assembly to look very different after May.
‘There is going to be quite a bit of change, even if you take the people that have already said they are not standing again,’ he said. ‘Jersey has always been conservative with a “small c” and I think Islanders still are.
‘Some of the frustration comes from a perception that the States cannot reform its service.
‘I would say don’t put at risk our economic success, as we are making real progress in transforming the system. I ask the public not just to judge me on the one or two issues they may not like but to look at the full range of policies and changes I have delivered.’