[WATCH] Ministers and MPs unfazed by Opposition’s no confidence motion

Ministers at Auberge de Castille for the ‘weekly’ meeting with the Prime Minister • Former PL deputy leader Toni Abela, adviser to the Prime Minister, present for the meetings

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is facing his first no confidence motion from the Opposition, which he is expected to easily defeat with his eight-seat majority
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is facing his first no confidence motion from the Opposition, which he is expected to easily defeat with his eight-seat majority
Labour ministers, MPs 'to reaffirm their support in government'

The members of the Cabinet and Labour’s parliamentary group are set to reaffirm their support in government on Monday during the no-confidence motion presented by the opposition.

One after the other, ministers and Labour MPs reiterated their confidence in the Prime Minister and in the government “which is committed to continue working” and improve people’s lives. They did not disclose whether the Panama Papershad been part of the agenda, but insisted that the group had discussed Monday's no confidence vote in the government among other topics.

Amongst them was Education Minister Evarist Bartolo who, like his colleagues, urged reporters to wait for Monday’s vote in parliament. Bartolo was the only Cabinet member to publicly voice his opinion on Panama Papers, arguing that if he were Konrad Mizzi, he would have resigned.

The MPs skirted questions on whether the energy minister should resign, but all reiterated that the Prime Minister “will be taking the decision that needs to be taken in due course”.

The first to come out, junior minister José Herrera told reporters that Monday’s no-confidence vote will confirm the parliamentary group’s support in Muscat and that the government would continue with its work. Former Labour deputy leader Toni Abela, retained by Muscat as his consultant, was also present for the meetings. Speaking to the press after the meetings, Abela referred to his speech at the abour conference last Thursday. In the speech Abela said that some of the most difficult decisions he had to take as Labour's deputy leader involved people he considered his closest friends.

The Labour MPs were convened for a meeting of the parliamentary group following a Cabinet meeting at Auberge de Castille.

The Cabinet usually meets on Tuesdays but, due to the Prime Minister’s trips to Jordan and Lebanon earlier this week, the meeting was postponed to Thursday.

On the steps of the Office of the Prime Minister ahead of the meeting, ministers insisted with reporters that the meeting was “a normal one” whilst Prime Minister Joseph Muscat reiterated that he had nothing to add to what has already been said.

“I will be taking the decisions that need to be taken,” Muscat reiterated.

Cabinet members met amidst increasing pressure on the Prime Minister to sack energy minister Konrad Mizzi over Panama Papers.

The Australian Financial Review yesterday published extracts of emails from Nexia BT auditors in Malta to the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which said that Keith Schembri and Mizzi’s auditors sought to open a bank account for their offshore Panamanian firms, to channel the profits into their offshore trusts in New Zealand: a classic example of using offshore to minimise tax on profits.

Schembri yesterday categorically denied that Mizzi was to have a part stake in a remote gaming business that his family business, Kasco group, was planning on developing. He took heart in the revelations, saying allegations of illicit earnings from the Azerbaijani state, a favourite punching bag for the Opposition, had been confirmed as untrue.

The chief of staff also said he will take legal steps in the Australian courts to protect his reputation.