[WATCH] Muscat extends olive branch to Busuttil: ‘I was mistaken’

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat says he was mistaken to say that his relationship with PN leader Simon Busuttil was beyond repair

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tonight admitted he was mistaken to have said his relationship with opposition leader Simon Busuttil was unsalvageable and urged the Nationalist Party leader to join him in forgetting what transpired in the past and work with him for the greater good of the country.

Muscat, who was addressing a political activity in Qala in Gozo, appealed directly to Busuttil.

“Whatever has happened, whatever we did, despite all our disagreements, while you are still PN leader, I am committing myself to forget what has happened and I am willing to work with you in the interest of the country,” he said.

He said, that as proof of the government’s commitment, he would be presenting the President of the Republic, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, a draft of the speech he would be making on the opening of Parliament, which she would be able to amend and add to, even though this was not a constitutional requirement, and in a bid to ensure that the speech be one that brings the country together.

“I will also be inviting the opposition to name a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives from within its ranks,” he said.

Muscat said he would also work with the opposition to appoint, as quickly as possible and ideally before the end of summer, a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life with the full approval of the House.

Muscat said the Nationalist Party will have a first chance on Wednesday to show whether it had learnt anything from its past mistakes, as he was slated to address a session of the European Parliament on the state of the rule of law in Malta.

“I will go there to see what our European friends have to say, answer their questions and – above all – defend our country against any accusations,” he said.

He insisted that Wednesday’s sessions will be a good test for the Nationalist Party to show that it had learnt from its past mistakes.

“Everyone will be evaluating what you say during that debate to see if you learnt anything,” he said. “We will see if the PN has learned that, no matter the differences between us, we are all Maltese, we are all Malta.”

On the election and the landslide victory registered by the Labour Party, Muscat said that only those who lived in a bubble could have been surprised by the result, once they realised the people felt differently from them and that they were completely out of touch.

“We were overwhelmed by the outcome of last Saturday’s general election, but we were not surprised, because we live among the people and not in some ivory tower,”

The prime minister said that he had wanted to make sure to visit Gozo for his first political activity following the election victory because he wanted to extend his thanks to all the Gozitans who had returned three Labour MPs on the 13th district, but had also registered an absolute majority in votes.

Muscat recalled that on the day after he took his oath of office this week, igaming giant Betsson had confirmed that, not only had it no intention of leaving the island as had been claimed by the opposition, but that it was in fact further expansion.

“Thus, on the very first day after the election, their very first lie was proven untrue,” he said. “Now we will wait for the outcome of the magisterial inquiry so that the largest lie of all will also be proven untrue.”

Muscat cautioned any ardent supporters from abusing the Labour Party’s recent electoral victories – it won the past two general elections, the last two MEP elections and the last three local council election rounds.

“Let us all remember that this movement is not Joseph Muscat, it is all of us, and we will make it grow together,” he said. “And that is why I warned against any abuse of power, because people would suffer if people sought power over the common good.”

The prime minister said that national unity was the biggest political challenge of the moment. He called on all true believers of the Labour movement to extend a hand of friendship to their opponents, despite what they had said or done.

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