St. John’s Antigua- A resounding “no” was the answer opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) leader Lester Bird gave when asked whether he instructed his colleague MP Asot Michael to enquire about dropping the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.
Another “no” followed in response to the query whether he intended to drop the motion as suggested by Attorney General Justin Simon, who said MP Michael intimated the ALP Leader wanted to drop the motion the day it was to be moved.
“I never did. No. I never instructed Mr Michael to raise any question of withdrawal. I never spoke to the attorney general. I wanted it postponed and that is what I asked Mr Michael to enquire about. I could not have asked for any withdrawal unless I had had discussion with the other members in Parliament,” Bird said.
The ALP leader said he has not had the opportunity to speak with MP Michael to verfity the allegations made by the attorney general on OBSERVER Radio’s Snake Pit programme Wednesday night.
“I haven’t spoken to Mr Michael since the AG’s comments. I tried to contact him but he is off island. He is out of the country for the Benna Boys game,” Bird said.
The former two-term prime minister made it clear the motion fell through because of ill health that barred his return to Parliament when called upon to start the debate. He insisted that had he known he could have delegated another colleague to do it, he would have done so.
“At no time did (I) Lester Bird ever indicate that (I) was going to withdraw the vote of no confidence when I was the one who had submitted it.
“Everybody is now seemingly taking credit for it but it was I who suggested to the executive and it was I who presented it to the Parliament. Therefore, it would not have been part of my angst to want to withdraw. We had a lot of things to say,” Bird said in an exclusive interview.
He said the notion that he “whimsically” decided to let the matter die is a “spin” by the attorney general.
“The attorney general cannot and has not said he spoke to me and I never sent anybody to speak to him. I sent Mr Michael to speak to the speaker of the house to see whether there was a possibility of deferring the thing for a week,” the opposition leader said.
He explained that the request was made prior to the lunch period when he had already began feeling exhausted and realised daylight was nearing an end with only three hours remaining.
“Mr Micheal came back and said to defer it would have been impossible but by that time I had already gone home for lunch and I had realized I was not in a position to really present it. I didn’t know I could have passed it on to someone else,” Bird explained.
To make his aforesaid remarks clearer, he said MP Micheal never returned to him while he was in Parliament to indicate a postponement was not allowed.
“He spoke to me after I went home but he went to the speaker before lunch and I was there,” the ALP leader stressed.
House Speaker D Gisele Isaac previously said when MP Michael approached her to enquire about an adjournment before luncheon, he was pointed to Standing Orders 30 and 31.
The orders address the inability to defer the matter and the manner in which the motion could be dropped – Bird could either delegate the responsibility; request a withdrawal upon which the parliamentarians would vote; or he could stay away and not authorize a colleague to pursue it.
Meantime, Bird again declared the intention to present a second no-confidence motion against the prime minister for alleged mishandling of affairs.