[WATCH] Adrian Delia loses no confidence vote

PN MPs vote with 19 votes in favour and 11 against to remove Adrian Delia from Opposition leader

Adrian Delia is facing another test of his leadership at the hands of his own MPs: Journalists and Delia supporters are gathered outside PN HQ where a crucial parliamentary group meeting is underway
Adrian Delia is facing another test of his leadership at the hands of his own MPs: Journalists and Delia supporters are gathered outside PN HQ where a crucial parliamentary group meeting is underway
Posted by MaltaToday on Tuesday, 7 July 2020

This is a developing story: latest update at 01:18am

The Nationalist Party parliamentary group has voted to remove Adrian Delia from Opposition leader.

With 19 votes in favour and 11 against, MPs expressed their no confidence in the leader.

After more than five hours into the heated meeting, MPs voted to hold a secret ballot, which Delia lost.

MPs were greeted by jeers and foul language by Delia supporters gathered outside the headquarters. "Traitors, you will not get our vote," the people shouted. One paid up member also threw his party membership card to the ground, insisting the "mercenaries" will not get his vote.

None of the MPs commented upon exiting the building. Claudio Grech, Chris Said and Karol Aquilina were singled out by the crowd.

It remains unclear what Delia's next move will be. He remains party leader.

At around 11:30pm the Hamrun district police superintendent was summoned inside the HQ. MaltaToday understands this was done to coordinate the exit of MPs when the meeting is over to avoid any crowd trouble. The doors to both the HQ and the media.link studios have been locked with party security inside and outside the buildings.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 7pm but only got underway just before 7:45pm as MPs waited for Delia to turn up. An hour before, the party leader was on NET TV lambasting the Vitals hospitals deal and insisting his fight against corruption will not waiver.

Delia also announced that he had asked the police to investigate leaked WhatsApp messages that showed how he conversed with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech last year. The chats, which were published by The Sunday Times of Malta, sparked outrage among PN MPs, a majority of whom have insisted Delia's position is no longer tenable after he engaged with Fenech when it was known that he owned 17 Black.

Outside party headquarters a small crowd of Delia sympathisers gathered to applaud MPs who support the leader. Tempers flared for a short while when a Delia sympathiser called out the One News journalist and challenged her to cover the National Audit Office damning report on the Vitals deal.

Three police officers were present outside the headquarters in what is anticipated to be a very hot discussion.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi has denied claims he was asked to mediate the meeting.

Earlier, PN insiders had claimed that Delia had brought in Gonzi to mediate the parliamentary group meeting, in a bid by the embattled leader to stave off plans by a number of PN MPs to call for a no confidence vote.

Gonzi did not confirm or deny whether he had met Delia, as the insiders claimed, but insisted he was not a mediator and that he would not be attending the meeting.

Sources told MaltaToday that Delia would be given a chance to step down from his post as Nationalist Party leader and will face a vote of no confidence if he refuses to do so.

Two MPs who spoke to MaltaToday on condition of confidentiality, insisted that – contrary to what happened in previous parliamentary group meetings – MPs were now intent on forcing Delia out.

Delia is facing flak from his MPs over exchanges he had with Yorgen Fenech last year when it was already known that the Tumas Group businessman was the owner of 17 Black. Fenech stands accused of masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017.

MPs already attended an unofficial parliamentary group meeting at PN headquarters late on Sunday, but many were left unconvinced by Delia’s defence in reaction to the WhatsApp exchanges with Fenech published by The Sunday Times of Malta.

“We will see how Delia reacts and what he will do,” one MP said. “But one way or another, action will be taken tonight.”

The MP said that there was already a post-Delia plan agreed upon and that it had the widespread support of a vast majority of the parliamentary group.

“Everyone, inside the group and beyond, within the whole party, acknowledges that Delia’s position – especially following the latest developments – is totally untenable. Everyone, that is, except Delia himself.”

READ MORE: Six reasons Adrian Delia’s position is now untenable

The MP said that the group expected Delia himself to make the first overtures in tonight’s meeting. “But if he remains stubborn even now, this time we are prepared to put our foot down,” the MP said, when pressed as to whether anything would actually happen if Delia did not bow out gracefully.

Delia resisted an attempt earlier this year by MPs, who wanted him out and party sources suggested he is unlikely to buckle under the pressure.

The parliamentary group can only vote on Delia’s role as leader of the opposition parliamentary group, not as party leader.

A vote of no confidence in Delia tonight would lead to him staying on as party leader but someone else occupying the constitutional role of Opposition leader.

The PN had been very critical of 17 Black’s inclusion as a target client for the Panama companies set up by former minister Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri. The company has been linked to alleged corruption in major public contracts.

In one of the exchanges, which were all initiated by Fenech, the Opposition leader entertained an invitation for dinner by replying that he would ask his aide, Pierre Portelli, to set it up.

Only last week, Delia twice told journalists that he had no communication of relevance with Fenech.

The situation could very much leave the PN in a quandary with Delia staying on as party leader but someone else occupying the constitutional role of Opposition leader.

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