[WATCH] Bernard Grech berates Prime Minister’s ‘failed media stunt’ during cordial meeting

Xtra on TVM | Bernard Grech hits out at Robert Abela's insecurity and incompetent government

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

Bernard Grech berated Robert Abela’s behaviour during what had to be a cordial first meeting between them, accusing the Prime Minister of “a failed media stunt”.

Speaking on TVM’s Xtra, the Opposition leader said Abela's stunt backfired because it only served to expose how worried he is.

Grech was referring to the first formal meeting he had with the Prime Minister in parliament during which Abela came out with guns blazing in an attempt to belittle his political opponent.

“Robert Abela is concerned because he is practicing shallow politics. Joseph Muscat also did this without being caught out, but Robert Abela is being caught out because of the incompetence within the Labour Party, and because he is facing more difficulties,” Grech said.

The newly-elected Nationalist Party leader also accused Abela of being little more than a puppet, elevated to his position by former prime minister Joseph Muscat to ensure the latter’s peace of mind.

“Of course, he’s not his own man. He was put there, it’s obvious that he was put there. Joseph Muscat took care to ensure that before he left he would have the security he needed in place,” he said.

The Nationalist leader said Abela was hindered by internal rifts. He argued that, despite outward appearances, the Prime Minister no longer enjoyed the support of the entirety of his government, contrasting this with the new situation within the PN. 

“In our case, there is unity that has been created because we have one common aim… we can think freely without being clouded by internal fighting. We are a team that can work together. The other side has a team that is fragmenting, as is becoming clearer and clearer every day,” Grech said.

Asked by presenter Saviour Balzan what it is that the PN needs in order to start closing the gap with Labour, Grech acknowledged the party had to start appealing to both middle-of-the-road voters as well as Labourites. He noted that the Nationalist core vote is smaller than that of its opponents with the result that the party could never get to government by relying only on its core voters.

However, he insisted the PN should never doubt its ability to win government. 

“A political party exists to be in government. it does not exist to continue playing in the bottom divisions. We need to have a victorious mentality, a mentality that we can do this. Once the PN introduces this mentality, the element of insecurity and the fear that everyone is there to harm us will disperse,” Grech said.

He said many people are flocking to the party, recognising that the Opposition is the only hope to saving the country from its current state. He argued that people are already getting tired of the PL in government.

The Nationalist leader said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed government’s weakness when the going gets tough. He said Abela tricked people instead of telling the truth, and instead of addressing a worsening situation opted to ignore it. 

However, Grech failed to come up with concrete proposals when asked by Balzan what further measures should be put in place to control the pandemic.

The Opposition leader suggested the use of facemasks should become obligatory in all places outside of one’s home. He insisted that in such a scenario health professionals should be dictating the measures. 

“We need to listen to the experts and to the Public Health Superintendent. Why are they not allowing her to call the shots as she did before? Now we have Robert Abela who wants to decide himself, or rather, not decide anything,” Grech said.

The Opposition leader acknowledged the PN’s pre-budget document was a bit light on detail, saying this was due to the limiting nature of the document itself.

“We will be explaining everything because everything that is proposed in the pre-budget document was put there after a lot of thought and deliberation”, Grech said.

He insisted the PN has ideas and knows where it wants to go contrary to the PL.