He served as Acting Prime Minister twice in the first half of April while Prime Minister Dean Barrow was out on medical leave. But could Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development and Corozal North area representative Hugo Patt be seeking the job for real – as the next leader of the United Democratic Party? That’s the buzz on the streets, following Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. Word to News Five is that he is preparing to put in his application to challenge established contenders Patrick Faber and John Saldivar and already has backing from at least one senior fellow member. But Patt responded to News Five this evening, explaining, “For now, there are only two candidates vying for leadership for the United Democratic Party. Any decision on my part to contest will require substantial discussion with my family and supporters of Corozal North. I will continue, to the best of my ability, to serve my country and my constituency.” Here is what he said at the time he was acting as Prime Minister in April, when he declared that he would be ready for any challenge despite his youth.
“I’m told the Prime Minister is going away again this weekend for his ailing back and other complications; will you be acting Prime Minister this coming weekend?”
Hugo Patt, Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development [File: April 12th, 2018]
“You’d have to ask him; don’t ask me. He is the Prime Minister, the authority is on him. As I said, I deputized for him; I would assume that my senior colleagues were not available at the time.”
“I spoke to a couple who expressed a bit of shock.”
“I haven’t spoken to them so I really can’t tell you.”
“How was your experience though, as Acting Prime Minister? Was it anything out of the ordinary?”
“Remember back in the days Valdemar Castillo called me ‘chamaco’ – a young kid on the block? Well, this young kid on the block is ready for any challenge, so there we go.”
Make of that what you will, but at his press conference on May sixteenth, Prime Minister Dean Barrow had alluded to another challenger, from the ministerial ranks, to Faber and Saldivar in the race to succeed him in 2019. Meanwhile, fellow Cabinet member Tracey Taegar-Panton indicated she was not aware of a possible Patt challenge when we spoke with her today.