Abela invites new PN leader to join him in ‘full-up’ message on migration

Prime Minister Robert Abela provokes new PN leader Bernard Grech with toxic invitation to support government’s full-up message on migration

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Robert Abela has invited newly-elected Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech to embrace government’s migration message that Malta is “full-up” in what is a poisoned chalice.

The Prime Minister used his first interview on ONE TV after Grech was confirmed PN leader to play tough on migration in an attempt to drive a wedge in the Opposition.

During the PN leadership campaign, Grech had rejected the ‘full-up’ terminology, in contrast with his rival Adrian Delia, who warned of ghettos being formed.

“I appeal to the Opposition for us to have a common policy on migration and the single message must be that we are full-up,” Abela said, insisting that was the only way for government to have a strong hand on the issue at EU level.

Abela boasted on ONE that no irregular migrants had arrived in Malta throughout September and a group of 38 Moroccan migrants who disembarked in Malta over the past 24 hours will be repatriated.

He insisted that government could not ignore the plight of residents in towns like Marsa where large communities of migrants lived.

Abela said community policing and an emphasis on law and order in these localities was addressing the concerns of residents.

Taking another dig at Grech, the Prime Minister insisted he was proud of being Maltese.

During the PN leadership campaign a video clip of Grech from two years ago made the rounds in which the new leader argued on TV that he was ashamed of being Maltese and when abroad told people he was Greek.

“I am proud to be Maltese. Everywhere I go, I boast that I am Maltese and at European summits it is not possible to debate Malta’s stand if you say you are Greek,” Abela said.

Since becoming prime minister in January, Abela has played tough on migrant arrivals from Libya in the face of faltering EU solidarity.

At one point, he even detained migrants on ships just outside Maltese territorial waters before recanting and allowing them in.

Malta has also coordinated with Libya to have the Libyan coastguard stop departing migrants before they enter the Maltese search and rescue zone. This has helped reduce migrant arrivals much to the criticism of human rights organisations.

However, he has also argued that Malta was “full-up” with migrants despite captaining a government that has over the past seven years adopted an economic model that encouraged the importation of foreign labour by the thousands.