New ALP Administration is a ‘Government of nine with its foot on a banana peel,’ observes UPP Chair about the Legislature

The new Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Administration is “a government of nine with its foot on a banana peel,” says United Progressive Party Chairman D. Gisele Isaac, in describing the election results.

Isaac’s comment refers to the Browne Administration’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, as there are now eight members on the opposition benches, including a former member of the ALP-turned-independent candidate. 

She notes, too, that several of the Government MPs are up in age and, therefore, have certain frailties.  

In order to pass a Bill through the House, she says that all ALP members will now need to be present.  A sitting cannot be held if a member of the Government bench is sick or out of the country, as has been the case in the past, Isaac says.

Meanwhile, Sir Robin Yearwood has been placed on the back bench for the first time in his almost 50 years as a parliamentarian.

In accordance with the Constitution, which requires that the Deputy Speaker be an elected member, Yearwood has been appointed to this position, which many residents consider a shocking demotion.

If the Speaker of the House, Sir Gerald Watt, is absent, or must leave the chair during debates – as has happened before – the Government bench would be reduced to eight, since Sir Robin would have to take the chair.

This would create an equal number of members on the floor: eight on the opposition benches and eight on the government side.

Accordingly, Isaac says, the Browne Administration will have to manage the process and avoid holding sittings when a member is out of the country and when a vote is being taken, since the “Ayes” have it.

However, there are ways of getting around this, she says, since the Deputy Speaker, being an elected member of the House, can vote to break a tie.