Simon Busuttil wants PN to boycott Parliament

Simon Busuttil tells MPs boycott will be picked up by Europe but Adrian Delia says timing is 'too early' and measure 'too extreme'

Simon Busuttil
Simon Busuttil

Simon Busuttil has called on the Nationalist Party parliamentary group to boycott Parliament in a bid to put pressure on the government, MaltaToday has learnt.

The former Nationalist Party leader made the proposal during Wednesday’s meeting of the parliamentary group, which was convened to discuss a motion calling on the Prime Minister to remove his chief-of-staff Keith Schembri.

Sources privy to the meeting said Busuttil’s position was supported by other MPs but PN leader Adrian Delia argued the timing was “too early” and the measure “too extreme”.

Busuttil insisted that a PN boycott of Parliament would be picked up by Europe and lead to immense pressure on the Muscat administration.

The last time such an episode happened was after the 1981 election when the PN had accused the government of Dom Mintoff of gerrymandering. The election result gave the PN a majority of votes but a minority of seats in parliament, which meant that Labour was returned to power.

Immediately after the election PN MPs stayed away from Parliament in a boycott that lasted more than a year.

During the parliamentary group meeting, Claudio Grech also called on the party to withdraw its position that Busuttil should suspend himself. His call went unheeded.

The PN had adopted this position after the Egrant inquiry findings were released last year. The inquiry concluded that allegations made by Maria Efimova and Daphne Caruana Galiza against Muscat and his wife Michelle, were false.

Delia had called a press conference and stripped Busuttil of his good governance portfolio and asked him to suspend himself from the party’s parliamentary group.

Busuttil refused to suspend himself from the party, a decision that was widely supported in the PN parliamentary group.

But Wednesday’s meeting uncovered the frigid relationship between the Busuttil camp and the party leader.

Delia was snubbed by Busuttil and Jason Azzopardi when he invited them to co-sponsor a motion asking for Schembri’s removal.

And it did not stop there because a call by Delia’s faithful for the parliamentary group to appear united at the Repubblika protest was also given the cold shoulder by the Busuttil camp.

Last Monday, Schembri ceded a defamation case against Busuttil, after he refused to testify. He argued that any of his answers on 17 Black would prejudice the magisterial inquiry on the same subject.

Subsequently, the PN put forward a parliamentary motion calling on the Prime Minister to remove Schembri from office.

Read more analysis and reportage in the print editon of MaltaToday.