Grech’s shadow cabinet choices ruffle feathers • PN 2nd District committees threaten to resign over Stephen Spiteri demotion

Bernard Grech’s reshuffle of the Nationalist Party’s shadow cabinet has unsettled the parliamentary group with sources suggesting that it is going ‘too far’

Bernard Grech is performing his first shadow cabinet reshuffle since becoming leader last October
Bernard Grech is performing his first shadow cabinet reshuffle since becoming leader last October

Updated at 5:25pm with PN 2nd District committees threatening resignation

Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech is remodeling the entire shadow cabinet, leaving many disappointed – and in some cases, angry – MPs, MaltaToday has learnt.

MaltaToday understands that Grech has faced backlash from Second District constituents after he removed the health portfolio from Stephen Spiteri.

Sources close to the PN said that Spiteri was given the responsibility of primary healthcare and mental health, effectively demoting the popular doctor.

Grech has received flak from Spiteri’s numerous constituents and in the latest twist to the saga, the PN's 2nd District committees have threatened to resign en masse if the doctor is demoted.

This is Grech’s first reshuffle of shadow portfolios since becoming leader last October and one that sources have described as going “too far”.

Tourism out of Arrigo's hands

MaltaToday understands that PN deputy leader Robert Arrigo was incensed by Grech’s decision to remove the tourism portfolio from under his wing. The sources said that so far, Arrigo has refused any other portfolio.

A similar situation concerns Mario Galea, who is understood to have refused to shadow only animal rights after mental health was pulled out of his responsibility.

Sources said that David Thake emerged from his meeting with Grech “very livid” after he was asked to shadow research and development and the post-COVID strategy instead of the all-important environment.

Thake’s demotion appears to be fuelled by allegations that he was trying to undermine Grech, according to the sources.

Comodini Cachia's responsibilities clipped

Therese Comodini Cachia was also left smarting and has so far declined to accept the portfolio given to her after Grech clipped her responsibilities.

She previously shadowed national heritage, the arts, culture and media, but sources said Grech asked her to shadow only the media.

Comodini Cachia had stepped aside from contesting the leadership contest last summer in a move that ensured Grech was the only candidate to take on Adrian Delia.
“Demoting Therese in such a way was a step too far after what she did to ensure he became leader,” party sources said.

Another radical change appears to be Jason Azzopardi’s removal from the justice portfolio to be given responsibility for work, Malta Enterprise and industrial relations.

Sources have spoken of major disquiet within the parliamentary group, acknowledging that the upheaval has left many confused.

“The situation remains fluid and it has to be seen whether Bernard Grech will backtrack on some of his decisions to placate the discontent,” the sources said.

Grech has been meeting his MPs individually and the reshuffle has not yet been concluded.