The ‘EU mantle’ has passed from Eddie to Joseph

Simon Busuttil checkmated himself, allowing the EU ‘mantle’ the PN wore as a result of Eddie Fenech Adami’s and Guido de Marco’s hard work to pass on to Joseph Muscat

The Prime Minister found no difficulty in thanking Fenech Adami, and his successor Lawrence Gonzi, for their work during the same historic sitting of the Maltese parliament which was marking Malta’s Presidency of the EU
The Prime Minister found no difficulty in thanking Fenech Adami, and his successor Lawrence Gonzi, for their work during the same historic sitting of the Maltese parliament which was marking Malta’s Presidency of the EU

At times truth is stranger than fiction. 

Simon Busuttil, the euro-paladin, accusing the EU of inertia in the face of corruption.

Simon Busuttil, former head of the pro-EU membership campaign, blaming the EU for rampant euroscepticism and Brexit.

Simon Busuttil doing this as Opposition leader of a country in which 84% of the population believes EU membership has been beneficial for Malta. Some are understandably asking what he was doing in Brussels, earning hundreds of thousands of euros annually as an MEP and not noticing the EU’s gross incompetence? He never spoke about that in the European Parliament. He never spoke about the Euroscepticism he is now claiming is a result of that incompetence. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Busuttil is coming across as an annoying salesman whose only spiel is based on incessant allegations of corruption. The whole Nationalist Party campaign is based on this obsession. They would have us believe that Joseph Muscat’s gas-fired power station is mired in corruption.

The PN did not expect the European Commission to approve it. For doing so the EU is implicitly also corrupt. I wonder if Simon Busuttil recalls the Nationalist government which had opted for a heavy fuel oil-fired power station. You know, the one originally intended to be gas-fired and which was then converted at considerable expense to use HFO – the most polluting fuel on the planet – after the publication of an accommodating and unpublicised legal notice during the Christmas season…

This was followed by the millions earned in corrupt oil commissions, the biggest scandal in Maltese history. That happened on his watch, while he was an integral part of a government which had declared it could never lower electricity tariffs for consumers. There were households whose electricity supply was cut off because some families could not cope with the astronomical bills in those days. The same families are now coping easily with the reasonable tariffs introduced by this supposedly corrupt administration.

Busuttil’s Europhobic declarations contrast sharply with the picture Eddie Fenech Adami painted on the road to accession. Dr Busuttil was an integral part of the pro-membership campaign in those days. Should we deduce, from his recent statements, that he was taking us for a ride?

It must be bemusing for some to see that Nationalist Party spokesperson Daphne Caruana Galizia is now insisting that Mario de Marco is not standing foursquare behind his leader and that he should therefore resign. Perhaps de Marco is not comfortable supporting someone ranting against an entity his father worked his guts out to ensure we joined.

It is a shame that Busuttil is using his position as Opposition leader to undermine public trust in institutions. In the EU, in Parliament, in the Police Force… any institution that does not dance to the tune he is playing. By his reasoning we should only have faith in one institution: Dr Simon Busuttil. A budding megalomaniac, I hear you ask?

The government’s efforts to provide consumers with cheaper and cleaner energy and the diversification of the energy mix has obtained the EU’s blessing. That blessing also meant that the partisan propaganda about the LNG ‘bomb’ anchored in Marsaxlokk, which bordered on the hysterical, was dismissed for what it was – pure scaremongering. It is obvious that this was the reason for Busuttil’s rant in parliament, which was dismissed by EU officials as being irrational, a rant deemed to be cringeworthy, even by staunch Nationalists.

Politically speaking, Busuttil has checkmated himself. He has allowed the EU ‘mantle’ the Nationalist Party wore as a result of the hard work of Eddie Fenech Adami and Guido de Marco, to pass on to Joseph Muscat.

The Prime Minister found no difficulty in thanking Fenech Adami, and his successor Lawrence Gonzi, for their work during the same historic sitting of the Maltese parliament which was marking Malta’s Presidency of the EU. He did that in presenting his vision for Malta in a dignified speech suited to the occasion. Simon Busuttil, in the circumstances, came across as a spoiled brat stamping his feet because he didn’t get his way. His attitude is terribly out of sync with the sentiments of the majority of the Maltese.

It is becoming obvious that Busuttil is losing his characteristic cool because all the indications point towards another Labour landslide in the forthcoming elections. He knows that he will be made the scapegoat for this humiliating defeat. It will be the fourth massive PN defeat he would be closely associated with. Certain manoeuvres indicate that he is already being lined up as the fall guy.

He is intelligent enough to see what is happening around him but strangely unwilling – or perhaps unable – to shake off the puppet-masters calling the shots.

The fact that some of the blame for his lacklustre performance will be placed squarely on Eddie Fenech Adami and Lawrence Gonzi will continue to compound the problems for the PN. The former actively promoted him and the latter positioned him for leadership. History will tell whether they were abysmally mistaken and whether Busuttil exacerbated the situation by accepting a responsibility which is proving to be beyond him.

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