Arrigo unclear about future with Bernard Grech as PN leader

PN deputy leader Robert Arrigo has not confirmed whether he will resign his position should Bernard Grech win the PN leadership

David Agius (left) and Robert Arrigo (right): if elected, Bernard Grech could be in for a forced marriage with Delia’s right-hand men until the next general election
David Agius (left) and Robert Arrigo (right): if elected, Bernard Grech could be in for a forced marriage with Delia’s right-hand men until the next general election

Adrian Delia’s deputy leader for party affairs Robert Arrigo has not made it clear he will step down should rival candidate Bernard Grech be elected in the news weeks as the PN’s new leader.

The man vying to replace Adrian Delia as leader of the Opposition has not yet met the two current deputy leaders to determine if there is common ground for them to work with him, MaltaToday has learned.

A spokesman for Grech said he could not confirm if the candidate had, as yet, met Arrigo and deputy leader for parliamentary affairs David Agius, to discuss their role within the party, were he to win the upcoming leadership election.

The two deputy leaders will retain their posts as deputy leaders, unless they resign them of their own volition. The next election for deputy leaders will be triggered after the next general election.

The same spokesperson insisted that Grech had repeatedly stated that he stood for unity and that he believed everyone could have a role to play within the party. “Dr Grech has made it very clear he is prepared to work with anyone who shows a willingness to contribute,” the spokesman said. “He has even said this of Adrian Delia.”

Grech’s failure to meet the deputy leaders was confirmed by Arrigo. When asked why no such meeting has as yet been held, Arrigo simply answered, “You should ask Bernard Grech that”.

Arrigo is currently serving as the party’s treasurer and the chairman of Media.link, the party’s media arm.

And while Grech, if he became leader, could ostensibly have Arrigo replaced as party treasurer and Media.link chairman, he would not be able to force Arrigo and Agius out of the deputy leader role.

So if Grech were to win the leadership election he could very well find himself with a leadership team still loyal to Delia and with his hands tied. And Arrigo says no one on Grech’s team has as yet contacted him or sounded him out.

But this was dismissed by a spokesman for Grech, who said that there had “been some communication” though he could not confirm when.

“This is not a question of meeting people for reassurance but Dr Grech is slowly going through a process of meeting everyone within the party,” he said.

As to whether he would willingly step down as deputy leader, should Grech edge Delia out, Arrigo said his term ran until the next general election. “But I am not glued to my chair,” he told MaltaToday.

And hinting at his success at turning around the flailing party finances, he said, “My success is a template for anybody who comes after me”.

Arrigo was also sceptical as to how successful Grech could be at uniting the Nationalist Party were he to win the leadership election. “It takes two to heal a rift,” he said. “And translating words into action can be made very difficult.”

Attempts to contact David Agius proved futile by the time of going to print.

Arrigo has also suggested that Grech drops out of the leadership race in exchange for an alternative senior post. But Grech said pulling out now would do a disservice to party and country.

In a televised interview on FLiving, Arrigo said that the election risks doing the party more harm than good.  He said he was ready to step down as Delia’s right-hand man and have Grech replace him if the race was called off.

 “Bernard Grech considers dropping out of the PN leadership race is a disservice to the party and the country,” a spokesman for Grech said.

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