Labour MPs will pose ‘no problem’ to divorce bill, says Muscat

Labour Leader Joseph Muscat was non committal on whether Labour MPs will enjoy a free vote over the parliamentary divorce bill vote.

Speaking just hours after the announcement of the result of the divorce referendum, Muscat said that the Opposition will make no manoeuvres to delay or vote out the proposed divorce draft bill.

He avoided questions by the media on whether the Labour party’s parliamentary group would enjoy a free vote on issue, insisting only that “there will be no problem by Labour’s MPs to ensure that the will of the people is respected.”

He said that he has “faith” that all labour MPs who, like Adrian Vassallo, vociferously opposed the introduction of divorce legislation would either vote in favour, or abstain.

Vassallo famously said that “not even if Christ descended from the skies would I vote in favour of divorce.”

Asked if the result indicated a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister, Muscat was non-committal. “The referendum went beyond party lines, and was more concerns with personal consciences. We would cheapen the referendum result by using it to try and score political points.”

He said the result simply showed that “the Maltese and Gozitan people are aspiring towards a lay society” and that “the time when people voted in accordance to the dictums of the political parties is over.”

“This is a new generation of voters – free-thinking and independent from political party lines,” Muscat said. “It is the political parties who will have to adapt to these new voters, and not the voters who will have to adapt to the existing political parties,” he added.

“Now it is time for the Prime Minister to publish the cohabitation bill,” Muscat said. He emphasised the importance of being able to have a “birds’ eye view” over all relevant legislation when discussing the upcoming divorce bill, and “not have to resort to patchwork legislation.”

Referring to the upcoming parliamentary debate, Muscat said that he “could see instances where the law could be changed” and “some wording improved,” without going into specifics.

Muscat called on the Prime Minister “to do his duty in parliament in the light of the result, and added that it now falls to  parliament to follow through on the will of the people with respect to the mandate we were given.”

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