On August 7 police officers entered the House of Parliament to remove Free National Movement (FNM) leader Dr. Hubert Minnis. This was in response to Dr. Minnis’ refusal to withdraw comments he made last month regarding the Prime Minister. As the officers came to remove Minnis, he and seven FNM Members of Parliament left the Chamber in solidarity. The only FNM MP to remain was Central & South Abaco MP Edison Key.
The stem cell bill, which was to be debated that day, was passed. Mr. Key said that his support for the bill was one reason why he did not join his FNM colleagues in their impromptu boycott of the House of Assembly.
After the incident Mr. Key said he was not concerned about backlash from his party. He claimed he was not going against the FNM. Instead, he said, he was representing his constituents. “The people sent me to the House to represent them,” he said of the matter.
Mr. Key was the only member of the FNM to attend Parliament on August 12. Other FNM MPs said they will maintain their boycott until Opposition Leader Minnis in no longer barred from the House.
According to rumblings in the party, the FNM plans to discipline Mr. Key. As of August 12, however, according to FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner, no decision had been made regarding Mr. Key.
Mr. Key said he does not deserve any disciplinary action but also said that it would ultimately be up to the FNM.
“It’s entirely up to the leadership of the party if they want to discipline me in any way, but I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Mr. Key.
Regarding whether the party would insist on a public apology from Key, Dr. Minnis remarked that he had no comment and that the party will deal with it internally first.
Mr. Key also responded to criticism from Democratic National Alliance party leader Branville McCartney, who said it was wrong of Mr. Key to not stand with his fellow party members. Mr. Key responded, “Branville needs to go to church and ask the Lord to forgive him; he seems to be all mixed up.”
Prime Minister, and leader of the Progressive Liberal Party, Perry Christie applauded Mr. Key for being “in favour of democracy.”
The Prime Minister went on to say, “Clearly the PLP is a party with a big tent. Key, in the right circumstances, could apply and be made welcome.”
Mr. Key was a PLP member until 2004 when he switched sides to join the FNM.
When pressed about the possibility of switching sides and joining the PLP again, Mr. Key coyly said, “You never know what I’ll be doing. I stick with my wife.”
On August 10, during Dr. Minnis flight to tour North Abaco, he was approached by Mr. Key, who was on the same flight. Eye witness reports say the two spoke concerning the events of the past week.
Mr. Key did not join Dr. Minnis for the party leader’s weekend of political activities on Abaco.