Simon Busuttil’s faction trying to rally support for anti-Delia move

Simon Busuttil’s allies are contacting MPs to force Adrian Delia to back down from his resignation call or face a motion of no confidence • Numbers so far militate in favour of Delia

Simon Busuttil has received the support of 10 other PN MPs but Adrian Delia still enjoys majority backing
Simon Busuttil has received the support of 10 other PN MPs but Adrian Delia still enjoys majority backing

Simon Busuttil’s allies have been contacting PN MPs to further their cause against party leader Adrian Delia’s decision to ask for his predecessor’s resignation, MaltaToday is informed.

The former PN leader has rallied around him a core group that includes former general secretaries Rosette Thake and Paul Borg Olivier, former party president Ann Fenech and several MPs.

Sources told MaltaToday that this group is operating from a Valletta office and over the past 48 hours has been piling pressure on PN MPs to back their cause.

So far, the group has managed to list the support of 10 MPs, who are opposed to PN leader Adrian Delia’s request for his predecessor to resign from the party after the Egrant inquiry findings.

READ ALSO: Adrian Delia faces growing rebellion over Simon Busuttil resignation call

Some of the MPs have taken to Facebook and twitter with the phrase “#not in my name #stronger together”, while others did not use the hashtag and instead gave an explanation for their position.

Sources said the rebel MPs could ask the President to appoint a new Opposition leader if they get the required numbers in Parliament.

16 MPs required

Busuttil requires the support of three more PN MPs to split the parliamentary group squarely down the middle. With the support from the Democratic Party’s two MPs, he will then be able to argue that Delia has lost the trust of a majority of Opposition MPs.

READ ALSO: PD MPs ready to back motion of no confidence in Adrian Delia

Sources said that Busuttil’s allies have over the past 24 hours put intense pressure on the three Gozitan MPs, Frederick Azzopardi, Chris Said and David Stellini.

However, the same sources said that it is unlikely that the three will declare their allegiance to Busuttil. Stellini is the president of the administrative council and voted for the motion asking Busuttil to resign.

Said, who lost the leadership race to Delia, is understood to have his own misgivings on Busuttil after the former leader had backed leadership candidate Alex Perici Calascione, a move that split the vote of councillors at the first stage of voting.

In a Facebook post this afternoon Said did not take sides and called for unity in the party. He cautioned against any move to get rid of anyone and urged the party to have an internal discussion on how best to fight corruption.

He added that by externalising its differences the PN was playing into the hands of the Labour Party and offered to act as a mediator to help achieve unity.

A similar call for an internal discussion on the best way forward was made yesterday by MEP Roberta Metsola.

Delia still commands a majority in Parliament and sources close to the party said he also enjoyed majority backing in the PN executive.

Delia’s decision to ask Busuttil to resign from the parliamentary group has received backing by the PN’s administrative council.

The next move would be to convene the party executive that would be asked to expel Busuttil if he refuses to go of his own accord.

Attempts to contact Busuttil on Tuesday proved futile.

What the Constitution says

Article 90 of the Constitution states the following: "If, in the judgment of the President, a member of the House of Representatives other than the Leader of the Opposition, has become the leader in the House of the opposition party having the greatest numerical strength in the House or, as the case may be, the Leader of the Opposition has ceased to command the support of the largest single group of members in opposition to the Government, the president shall revoke the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition."