By Carlena Knight
“Harold Lovell is the best Prime Minister Antigua and Barbuda never had.”
This was the emotional response by Chair of the United Progressive Party (UPP), D Gisele Isaac, who spoke on the news that leader of the UPP Harold Lovell had resigned.
Lovell made the announcement in a statement issued to the media on Friday morning which noted that effective January 20, he is no longer the leader of the country’s main Opposition party.
According to the statement, Lovell will be succeeded by Deputy Political Leader Jamale Pringle who has also been returned as Parliamentary Representative for the All Saints East and St Luke’s constituency following Wednesday’s polls.
Many thanked Lovell for his contribution to, not only the development of the country, but to his constituency of St John’s City East, while others mentioned that this resignation was long overdue.
But for Isaac while speaking on the Observer AM show yesterday, the news is bittersweet, because while the party increased its number of elected candidates to six, it is sad that Lovell could not be a part of that group, and a part of Parliament once again.
Lovell missed out by six votes on retaking the City East seat that had sent him to the House of Representatives in 2004 and 2009.
“It’s a hard thing for me personally. The only way I can sum this up is that Harold Lovell is the best Prime Minister this country never had. For me, the greatest casualty of this election is really the fact that Brother Harold is leaving. I think had he gotten those six votes, seven votes that he needed to win, he would still be with us. The Party, the country would be better off, so that to me is the greatest casualty of the election.
“Other than that, the UPP has done very well. I am very proud of the candidates. When you think of the distance this Party has travelled from 2018 to now with a slate that is majority new, I think our achievement is fantastic, awesome, and I salute those who fought because they all fought, they all performed well in the face of the odds presented to them by going up against the Labour Party,” Isaac said.
Despite her disappointment, Isaac did mention that the Party will be moving forward and will be meeting with the new members of the Lower House.
“It’s important for us that they gel as a unit, that they have each other’s backs, that they go in there cohesively with one voice, and one of the things we will be meeting with them about as well, other than the Parliamentary responsibilities, is the fact that they have now become part of the leadership group of the Party.
“According to our Constitution, elected members of Parliament form part of the leadership group of the party. So, they will join with the Political Leader, me as Chair, sister Shawn [Nicholas] as General Secretary, Dr Daniel—Treasurer, and of course, we have Brother Baldwin [Spencer] who is a part of our leadership group, and Brother Chaku [Symister], and so on. We have continuity. We have yesterday, we have today, we have tomorrow, and so we have to solidify inside.
“We have not yet named Senators, that will be part of our discussions that will happen today, but what we are focused on is continuing the building process,” she added.
She explained that they will have the “moral obligation” to speak on behalf of the people as three of the six members are new to the House of Representatives.
Lovell will remain active with the Party, mainly in the role of advisor to the executive and the incoming Parliamentarians.
He was quoted as saying the UPP is in a very strong position now, the best since 2009, and this is a good time for him to step down.
“I know that Brother Pringle is more than capable of leading the Party and he enjoys my committed support,” the outgoing leader added.
Lovell was elected Political Leader at the Party’s 2015 Convention and has been the force behind the rebuilding of the UPP since it lost office in 2014.
During his ten years in Government, he served as the Minister of Tourism in his first term, and as Minister of Finance and the Economy, in his second term.