PM hits back at UK MP who raised stranded nationals’ plight

By Guardian,

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last night hit back at the British MP who raised the plight of Trinidad and Tobago nationals stranded in the UK due to the closure of T&T borders since March.

Speaking at a People’s National Movement post-Budget meeting in Belmont, Rowley described Steven Baker, the Conservative representative for Wycomb, as an “itinerant UK MP” that the United National Congress had found to raise the issue in the UK Parliament.

Rowley said he had expressed his concern about the matter when he met with the newly-appointed British High Commission to T&T Harriet Cross on Tuesday.

Speaking in the UK Parliament on Tuesday, Baker appealed to the T&T Government to repatriate its citizens stranded in the UK.

“I’ve got Trinidad and Tobago residents or citizens in my constituency burning through their savings really terrified about failing to get home to protect their homes and businesses from approaching severe weather. Can I ask the minister to join me in calling on Trinidad and Tobago to make sure their citizens get home, I think it’s our common humanity to enable people to return home to protect their homes,” Baker said.

However, addressing the issue last night, Rowley said if Baker was really interested in T&T, he should try to assist the Government to help recover money stolen from the Treasury now believed to be with individuals in Britain.

“They have already got a senior counsel from Britain pleading guilty in a Port-of-Spain court for thiefing public money with the assistance of UNC officials. There is much more to that, so Mr Baker, you will be receiving a correspondence from me personally asking you to help us bring back those who have stolen our money and have it in Britain and are in Britain, bring it back to justice in Trinidad and Tobago,” Rowley told the meeting.

In a wide-ranging address, Rowley also touched on the proposal to raise the retirement age to 65. He said the NIB is “in danger of heading towards bankruptcy” and increasing the retirement age was one of the ways to prevent that.

He said there will be continued conversations about raising the retirement age.

He also said while the planned privatisation of the Port of Port-of-Spain may lead to job losses, the current model under the Ministry of Works and Transport hasn’t worked.

He was critical of the UNC, describing members of the party as “unpatriotic underminers of T&T.”

Commenting on the UNC’s contributions to the Budget debate, which wrapped up in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the PM said it was “the worst debate I have ever had the chance to see or participate in.”

Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Education Minister Nyan Gadsby Dolly also spoke at last night’s meeting.

Main photo: UK MP Steve Baker pictured in Whitehall in January 2020. (Photo courtesy: Dominic Lipinski/PA)

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