'I trust Theresa May, she'll take care of the Maltese in Britain', Muscat says

Joseph Muscat confirmed that there were four possible Brexit scenarios, with a no-deal Brexit still very much on the table

Joseph Muscat:
Joseph Muscat: "The British themselves do not know what kind of Brexit they want... we can't prepare our people and our businesses with every possible Brexit scenario."

Joseph Muscat said that he trusted British Prime Minister Theresa May and that he believes the Maltese people in the UK will be taken care of, whatever the Brexit outcome.

"I trust May. She's very reliable. There was never a situation where she promised something she couldn't deliver," Muscat said, adding that he had full faith that Maltese citizens in Britain will benefit from a generous deal on the basis of the historical and agreeable relationship between the two countries.

Muscat delivered a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday in the wake of last week's special meeting of the European Council. He confirmed that Malta had agreed to extend the UK's Brexit deadline to 31 October at the EU leaders' meeting.

"We provided the English citizens in Malta with the most generous deal any member state has offered. These people can rest assured that they will be treated well, enjoying a 10-year work permit that can keep getting renewed. I have full faith that the Maltese in Britain will enjoy the same privileges," Muscat said.

He added, however, that the British themselves did not know what they wanted in terms of Brexit. "There are two to three doors open to the UK now and a decision has to be taken."

Four possible scenarios

Muscat said that there were four possible scenarios in terms of Brexit at present.

"The first is that the prime minister and the opposition leader ratify an agreement before the 31 October. The second possibility is a no-deal Brexit. The third is when Britain leaves the EU automatically in June if it does not organise MEP elections. Or else: Britain remains a member state in the EU," Muscat said.

He highlighted the fact that a no-deal Brexit was still a possibility and that while there was subsidiary legislation in place to protect both Maltese citizens in the UK and British citizens in Malta, businesses could still be in limbo.

"The government is offering assistance to all kinds of businesses via the Malta Enterprise but no amount of preparation is enough because there is uncertainty at every turn," Muscat said, adding that if all possible permutations were to be presented by government to businesses, the government would be doing a disservice.

"All we can do right now is work on risk management and start minimising the options of preparations that our businesses and our people can take," Muscat said.

The prime minister argued that these preparations were far from secret and that the government had even provided the opposition with a cabinet memo regarding adequate arrangement and instructions to several businesses.

Muscat did not elaborate, even as Opposition Leader Adrian Delia asked him about which sectors and departments were being given priority and what the official information being passed out by government is.