By Adia Wynter
Former UPP Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer is apparently saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s offer of a knighthood in this year’s Independence Day honours.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas told a press briefing yesterday that Cabinet had been discussing bestowing the prestigious honour on Dr Spencer to commemorate his many years of service to the nation.
“We are in discussions with the former prime minister through the office of the Attorney-General, and once we have concluded those, the official nomination will be made for consideration, and hopefully it could be as soon as this year’s Independence celebrations,” Minister Nicholas said.
However, UPP political leader Harold Lovell told Observer that Dr Spencer, after being approached, had requested time to consider the offer.
Spencer has reportedly decided, however, that despite the honour being well-earned, he will not be able to accept it for personal reasons.
The former UPP Prime Minister spoke briefly with Observer on Thursday morning, and said he was in the process of putting his decision in writing to PM Browne.
Spencer was the first political leader of the United Progressive Party, holding the title of third Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. He was also parliamentary representative of St John’s Rural West, having been elected five successive times from 1989 until 2014.
After serving his sixth unbroken term in the House of Representatives in 2018, Spencer said goodbye to the House with his retirement from elective politics.
Had he not declined the knighthood, Spencer would have joined several politicians – both former and active – who also hold the prestigious title such as former Prime Minister Sir Vere Cornwall Bird Sr, Sir George H Walter and Sir Robin Yearwood.
There were also suggestions in recent months of a knighthood being given to Minister of Health, Molwyn Joseph. PM Browne told Pointe FM in June that he planned to recommend Joseph for the honour.