Malta will lose an ally if UK Parliament approves Brexit agreement - Prime Minister

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that today’s EU summit is more of a formality, and the challenge will be whether the Brexit arrangement is approved in the British Parliament

It is now up to the British Parliament to approve the Brexit agreement, Prime Minster Joseph Muscat said
It is now up to the British Parliament to approve the Brexit agreement, Prime Minster Joseph Muscat said

If Brexit goes ahead, Malta will be losing an ally with which the country sees eye to eye with on many issues, Joseph Muscat said.

In a short telephone interview on One Radio, the Prime Minister - who is in Brussels for a European Union summit where Theresa May and other European leaders are agreeing on the Brexit withdrawal agreement and political declaration - said today’s meeting was more of a formality.

“It seems that on paper everything is finalised and the arrangement has been done. The issue on Gibraltar has also been sorted,” he said, “So now it’s up to the United Kingdom and whether the British Parliament supports the agreement or not.”

It is now the British MPs' job to do what they feel is in the best interest of their country, he said, underlining however that the the UK leaving the EU will not be to Europe or Malta’s advantage.

“The biggest impact I can foresee for Malta is that a country which sees things the same we do won’t remain a member. An ally of ours won’t be there anymore,” he emphasised.

Sant should recontest EU elections

Muscat told Alfred Sant - who was also participating in the radio's newspaper front pages programme - that the former Labour Prime Minister should recontest the European Parliament elections.

Sant, who has not yet said if he will be a candidate in the MEP elections in May next year, is needed for Malta, Muscat said.

"The country needs a person of your calibre, so please stay on," he said.

Sant subsequently said he was still thinking about the matter, since there was a lot to consider, including his age. He said he planned to take a final decision by the end of the month.

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli has already confirmed she will be contesting for another term, but fellow MP Marlene Mizzi said she wouldn’t be a candidate next year.

Cyrus Enger - who stood for the 2014 European elections with Labour, only to withdraw his candidacy when a court of appeal sentenced him to two years in prison, suspended for two years, after he was found guilty of revenge porn against a former boyfriend - is also a confirmed candidate for 2019.

EU’s stamp of approval for government’s plans

Asked about the European Commission's recent acceptance of Malta’s 2019 Budget, Muscat said that this meant the government’s plans were in accordance with EU rules.

“In its approval, the Commission was positive about our surplus, but also saw in a good light our social measures, specifically the increase in children’s allowance and pensions,” he underscored, “They also highlighted the policies and specific measures about low-income families and housing.”

“This shows that our policies to reduce poverty are working,” he said, adding that more work remained to be done, since there were still families experiencing problems related to poverty.

Turning to the prospects of Gozo’s economy, Muscat said that the recent reports that Noovle, a company associated with Google, had opened offices in Malta’s sister island was testament to the fact that an “economic rejuvenation” was taking place.

Noovle (a Google Cloud Premium Partner specialising on ICT and cloud consultancy) would be employing 35 people in Gozo, the Prime Minister said, which, within the Gozitan context, was a “significant development”.

In his closing comments, Muscat also spoke of the “fantastic” Medical Cannabis World Forum which took place earlier this week in Valletta.

“It’s fantastic to see world leaders in this sector coming to Malta to witness what we are doing in this area,” he said, “ Malta Enterprise announced that ten companies will be opening in Malta, and they have started the process to be given a license by the Malta Medicines Authority. But another ten companies were also rejected, showing that we have a good level of control.”

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