Member of Parliament for St George North Gline Clarke says he remains a staunch member of the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and has no desire to join his former colleague Bishop Joseph Atherley in Opposition.
“No, I never thought about joining him because I have been in this party for well over 40 years . . . so I am quite happy to continue to be a member of the party and do my best,” Clarke told Barbados TODAY after taking the Oath of Allegiance at Government House today.
He however said he had no hard feelings towards Atherley, who won the St Michael West constituency on a BLP ticket but almost immediately decided to cross the floor following the May 24 election, in which the Mia Mottley-led party claimed all 30 seats at stake.
“My view is that a person can make his or her decision based on what their prospective is. So I can’t really comment on that because I have never had a discussion with him [Atherley] on that matter, but a person is entitled to do the best that they can,” said Clarke, adding that “it is left to be seen what happens over the course of the next five years”.
Clarke, who is due to be elected Deputy Speaker when the House of Assembly convenes tomorrow, has earlier expressed his disappointment over not being given a Cabinet position.
However, today the six-time representative appeared much more accepting of the Prime Minister’s decision, which he said also did not go down well with many of his constituents.
“I try to make the best out of every situation that I’m placed in. When you are given something, even if you do not like it, you try your best to work with it,” he said, while assuring that the Mottley Government was stable.
“As far as I am concerned there is no divisiveness right now, [although] you don’t know what people have in their hearts but right now, the party is solidly behind the Prime Minister.”
Clarke said he was focused on giving his constituents the best representation and was also confident that his party would honour the promises made to the electorate on the campaign trail.
“Obviously we won’t be able to do all that we say at once . . . . The country is going through some stringent times but we have to be able to do our best. It will be very difficult for us to rush head on and just do programmes that the country can’t afford right now. I think the country understands, once you speak to them, the country understands what is happening,” he said, adding that “people must not expect to have everything at the same time but we will try our best to honour or commitments to ensure that we protect the most vulnerable”.
Among the promises made by the new Government are to increase the contributory and non-contributory pensions, as well as invalidity and survivor’s benefits; eliminate tuition fee payments for Barbadians attending the University of the West Indies, scrap the National Social Responsibility Levy, provide trust loans for Barbadians and eliminate pit toilets.
However, all of this may well depend on the outcome of urgent discussions, which are to begin here tomorrow, on a formal balance of payments support programme for the country which has a national debt of 175 per cent of gross domestic product and critically-low foreign reserves, which, as of May 31, 2018 stood at only US$220 million, or the equivalent to seven weeks’ worth of import cover.