The main Opposition United Progressive Party says while it is not condoning the behavior of MP for St Peter Asot Michael in Parliament, his reaction was a human response to “provocation” by Prime Minister Gaston Browne
Michael was suspended for three consecutive sittings by Speaker of the House Sir Gerald Watt for “Abuse of the Chair”
In a statement to the media, the UPP said that “it is unfortunate and unfair that Sir Gerald then chose to victimize MP Michael for his human response to gross provocation. The UPP’s Leadership does not condone the remarks made by MP Michael since we cannot support blatant disrespect of the Speaker or the House. However, we recognize that the Member had been unreasonably pushed to the limit of his tolerance”
The entire situation occurred when MP Michael took issue with a comment made by Prime Minister Gaston Browne while Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin was concluding a debate on a bill.
Michael repeatedly argued loudly with the speaker, who had warned him repeatedly that he would not tolerate his actions much longer.
The UPP accused the Speaker of being biased, saying that “the breaches of the Standing Orders – unparliamentary language, threats/intimidation, imputing improper motives – that took place in the sitting of Thursday, May 18, were ignored or overlooked by Sir Gerald and created an environment that was, at best, hostile to MP Michael and, at worst, a naked abuse of power”
The UPP said also that Speaker left no room at any time in that sitting for a “No” vote and declared, in every other instance, that “the Ayes have it” – without the benefit of a count.
“Accordingly, it is not known which Members of even the Government Bench voted for the fictional suspension of MP Michael. We say “fictional” because the Standing Orders governing the naming and suspension of a Member were not followed. The Speaker cannot move the motion; and, so, everything that transpired in that rushed procedure is of no effect” the statement added.