De Marco, under fire from internal critics, and Busuttil in joint appeal for PN unity

'The only way we can win this battle is we are united, if we believe we are united, and if we show that we are united'  Mario de Marco and Simon Busuttil in rallying cry for PN unity 

Mario de Marco and Simon Busuttil are welcomed by the PN faithful in Mqabba
Mario de Marco and Simon Busuttil are welcomed by the PN faithful in Mqabba

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil joined his deputy leader in appealing against splits in the party, after internal critics fuelled a poison-pen tirade by blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia calling Mario de Marco out for not pulling his weight in the party.

“Time is little and the battle looming in front of us is large, but we can only win it if we are united, if we believe that we are united, and if we show the people that we are united,” De Marco told the PN faithful during a party activity in Mqabba.

“To those people who are creating fictitious stories of splits within the PN, I tell them that the real split exists within Labour – between the people with Panama companies and the Labourites of goodwill who are struggling to get by in their lives.

“The past two years weren’t easy for me, and it would have been easy for me to pass in the responsibility of the deputy leadership to someone else, but I decided to stay out of sense of duty, responsibility and loyalty to my country, my party and the people.”

De Marco was recently criticised by Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia, believed to be carrying out internal party critics’ bidding, who accused the deputy leader of not caring whether the PN wins the upcoming election or not.

He responded that his prolonged absence from politics was due to his recovery from two major surgeries. When questioned by MaltaToday last week on whether De Marco was living up to expectations, Busuttil refused to comment, simply stating that he “remains the PN’s deputy leader and…has my understanding”. The PN later issued a statement emphasizing its “unity under Simon Busuttil against the most corrupt government Malta has ever had”.

During his speech today, Busuttil offered a more vigorous defence of his deputy leader, who he praised for his courage and loyalty.

“He passed through a very tough period and it would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to resign as deputy leader, but he chose to remain in his position and he will remain there,” he said.

Busuttil urged the PN to avoid Labour’s attempts at creating splits within the Opposition and to resist the governing party’s strategy of tarnishing PN politicians with allegations of corruption. 

“It is clear that Labour’s strategy is to throw as much mud at the PN as possible, so that people will view all politicians as dirty and decide to stick with Joseph Muscat,” Busuttil said. “I refuse these attempts to smear me, because I am not dirty and indeed my mission is to clean up politics from the dirt, lies and personal vendettas of this government.”

Din l-Art Helwa's photomontage of Townsquare as seen from Cottonera
Din l-Art Helwa's photomontage of Townsquare as seen from Cottonera

Busuttil’s plea to Townsquare developers: ‘You are part of society too’

During his speech, Busuttil reiterated his plea to the Gasan Group – the developers of the proposed Townsquare skyscraper in Sliema – to downscale the high-rise project.

“I urge you to listen to the people. You are part of society too, so you must act in a way that reflects what society wants. The Townsquare project will ruin the view of Valletta, and the views of our country should be everybody’s.

“Everyone should get to enjoy this country’s views and it’s not right that one person will get to view the entire country from the top of his skyscraper while the rest of the country will merely get to view his building.”

He recounted some of the PN’s proposals in its recent policy document on the environment, including enshrining environmental protection in the Constitution.

“While it is good that the government has kept the economy moving, there are some things – like our health and quality of life – that cannot be quantified with money. The way we treat the environment reflects our values, and we require a long-term plan to safeguard it and remove it once and for all from its status as a political battleground.”

He added that a PN government will negotiate with Sadeen in order to persuade them not to use Zonqor as part of its American University of Malta project, and will study a proposal to pave roads with solar panels. 

‘De Marco forced to change his tune’ – PL

The Labour Party claimed that De Marco has been forced to change his tune after a week of “persistent attacks by the PN’s blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia”.

“De Marco’s speech today clearly shows that he has been forced to start singing the same tune of Salvu Mallia’s party [sic], so as to stop the internal attacks against him.”