Cardona reinstated minister, MPs’ unanimous vote gives Muscat final say on next move

Emergency parliamentary group meeting sees MPs unanimously give Muscat final say on his exit strategy

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat exiting the Girgenti residence
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat exiting the Girgenti residence

Labour MPs have voted unanimously to give Joseph Muscat the final decision on how he should proceed in the lead-up to a Labour leadership election that will be held on the 18 January, 2020.

It means that Muscat has not yet resigned, and as things stand, could stay on as PM up until the Labour leadership election.

Muscat was said to prefer having a first round of voting on his successor by paid-up party members on the 8-9 January 2020, followed by a second round on 14-15 January for delegates. But different dates have been leaked to the press. The final decision is a closely-kept secret held by Muscat and his two deputies, Chris Fearne and Chris Cardona.

MaltaToday is also informed that Chris Cardona has been reinstated as minister, after having resigned from the Cabinet earlier this week.

Joseph Muscat was facing a growing push within his Cabinet and parliamentary group to step down immediately, making way for an interim leader, MaltaToday is informed.

Muscat was expected to step down but initial indications suggested that he would stay on until January when the Labour Party is hoping to have elected a new leader. However, a large group of disappointed and angry MPs are insisting the party is in no mood to hold a potentially divisive leadership contest over the Christmas period in these circumstances.

These MPs are arguing that Muscat must step down immediately and the President appoint deputy prime minister Chris Fearne as prime minister for an interim period.

Labour’s parliamentary group met today, Sunday, in an emergency session. The meeting was held at the prime minister’s summer residence of Girgenti.

The group had to discuss Muscat’s potential exit, and whether he should leave now or stay on till January, when a new Labour leader will be elected, or whether an interim prime minister should be appointed.

MPs met after a harrowing day where the Tumas magnate and Electrogas shareholder Yorgen Fenech was charged with masterminding the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Since then the PM’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri has resigned, implicated by dint of his knowledge that Fenech was being investigated, and having had a secretive business relationship with him for the past years.