Muscat extols virtues, says he will take back seat inside Labour under new leader

In Gozo, outgoing PM extols economic virtues and says he will be “first Prime Minister to have kept aside €600 million” for his successor

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Ta' Sannat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at Ta' Sannat


Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has told people in Gozo that the will retain a role inside Labour but will not be on the frontline.

In what was his second instalment of a ‘farewell tour’, this time in Sannat, Muscat once again extolled his administration’s virtues despite pressures on him to resign immediately over the implication of his former chief of staff Keith Schembri in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“I am proud that I've been part of this movement and I will remain in this movement. I will be here but don’t expect me at the frontline because the new leader will need all the space that he requires for the best of our country,” Muscat said on Sunday.

The new Prime Minister will either be Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne or Labour MP Robert Abela who will take over on 11 January. 

Muscat praised both men and said that he knew them well. He also promised them his unconditional support. “They have the vision and they will take us forward. I know they will correct the mistakes we made but build on the good that we’ve created,” Muscat said.

He added that the new Prime Minister should count himself lucky that he would not have to deal with a deficit or heavy debt but a surplus, a strong economy and a strong social development fund, which consists of around €600 million. 

“I will be the first Prime Minister to have kept aside €600 million for the next Prime Minister and I know that whoever takes over will use these well, will save even more and take care of it,” Muscat said, adding that the next Prime Minister will have two and a half years of service and would undoubtedly implement the promises of the electoral manifesto which the people voted for in 2017.

He told his followers at Sannat that he had to resign so that the Labour party could start a new page, to right the wrongs and so that the party could continue to build on the strong projects and policies that it had implemented.

“We were attacked, we were lied about but amidst all of this we always felt your love. We are not bitter and this country needs to unite now more than ever. There are those who are protesting justly and some who aren't but don't protest against people who have always done a good job,” Muscat said, adding that he would continue to endure the attacks and take responsibility for the damage the country had suffered but that the Armed Forces of Malta and the police force did not merit such scathing remarks.

Following his speech at Sannat, the Nationalist Party issued a statement saying that instead of lapping up applause and support, Muscat should have already resigned.