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Irate Alfred Sant on Brincat vote: EPP didn’t stop ‘LuxLeaks’ Juncker becoming EC president

Former Labour prime minister promises ‘eye for an eye’ retaliation for PN MEPs • PN MEPs reply

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
16 September 2016, 11:57am
Last updated on 16 September 2016, 12:58pm
Alfred Sant
Alfred Sant
Former Labour prime minister Alfred Sant has come out in defence of his former minister of finance Leo Brincat, after his nomination to the European Court of Auditors was resoundibly turned down by a 315 MEPs, which included most of the European People’s Party’s 215 members.

Sant suggested the Nationalist Party’s three MEPs of having conducted a whispering campaign to have Brincat’s nomination refused by their political family, which he accused of blantant hypocrisy.

“It was during [EC President] Jean-Claude Juncker’s stint as finance minister of his country that all the suspicious arrangements were made, by which multinational companies got off paying their taxes, as revealed by the Luxleaks scandal. Now it is really strange that in no way did the EPP show it had a problem about the matter, or that it felt scandalised by the revelations.

“In fact, it has stonewalled all motions in the EP which go in the direction of a censure on Juncker’s record. There can be no comparison between the facts regarding the Panama papers scandal (in which he personally had no mention) as attached to Leo Brincat’s nomination, and the very serious facts that are attached to Junckerm,” Sant said.

The head of the Labour delegation gave short shrift to PN claims that Brincat had floundered on the back of his vote to support Konrad Mizzi in a confidence motion against him, during the Panama Papers revelations.

“It was a vote of confidence, regulated by the three-line whip procedure. In our parliamentary system, which is clamped between two parties, both sides have a bitter experience of what happens when a three-line whip on a vote of confidence is disobeyed.

“To remain coherent with the excuse he adopted, the Opposition Leader must now recognise that the members of his party who voted against the Gonzi administration on votes of confidence were exercising their discretion as to what is right or wrong.

“Even if with their position, they embarrassed their government and eventually brought it down, he should welcome them back in the PN fold with open arms, while recognizing their right if they get the opportunity, and the call arises in future, to repeat what they did in the past,” Sant said.

Sant accused the PN of having broken a golden rule for Maltese MEPs not to vote against the national interest. “One is led to the conclusion that more than cries and hidden whispers had been going on. Up to now, within the European Parliament, the arrangement has always been observed by both sides to maintain support for nominations involving Maltese individuals, as is proper.

“Other delegations do the same, in a manifestation of national unity. Given our minute size, the split that has been put on display shows us in the worst possible light.”

Sant even said that the PN could flog the Panama scandal to death “for as much as it likes” but that pushing it inside the EP was “highly geared political opportunism. It undermines the national interest. It is inviting retaliation of the type – an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

PN reply

But in a reply, the PN delegation said Sant’s statement was unacceptable and that it would only continue to tarnish Malta’s reputation.

“It is indeed sad to see a former Prime Minister of Alfred Sant’s stature, who has spent a career trying to clean up the Labour Party, now spending his twilight political years being forced to defend the indefensible actions of Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat,” MEPs David Casa, Therese Comodini Cachia and Roberta Metsola said.

“Alfred Sant knows that Malta deserves better than the clique who have taken over Castille & Mile End and who are only interested in self-enrichment and power for power’s sake. He knows only too well that Malta’s reputation is being irreparably damaged by Konrad Mizzi but he refuses to do anything about it. He should have the courage to stand up for his convictions, stand up for Malta and not put Joseph Muscat’s shortsighted partisan interests before that of Malta.”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.