[WATCH] Election should be held next year, Bernard Grech says

Xtra on TVM | Opposition leader Bernard Grech reaches out to Labour voters ‘hurt’ by recent developments 

Opposition leader Bernard Grech
Opposition leader Bernard Grech

Government should last its full term and the election called next year, Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech said. 

“People have a right to stability and a government that lasts five years,” he said when interviewed on TVM’s Xtra on Thursday. 

A few weeks ago, when speaking in Gozo, Grech gave the impression the PN wanted the election to be held the soonest possible. 

“There is one year left for the election to be called when it is due. If an election is held before its time, it means Robert Abela is in crisis and wants to avoid the consequences,” Grech said. 

The Opposition leader reached out to Labour voters, acknowledging their hurt at feeling betrayed by people who “hijacked their party”. 

“Labour voters want a normal country… they betrayed you but it is not your fault… it was your right to see the Labour Party in government after 25 years of PN rule but it was not right to have people who captured your party for their own ends,” Grech said. 

He urged Labour voters and activists to change their party but also extended a welcoming hand for those who want to join the Nationalist Party if they feel helpless. 

Grech said his first job when becoming leader last year was to consolidate the PN and try and heal the divisions. 

“A lot has been done and today we are in a better position. But we also have to renew ourselves and we are working on it by drafting policies, attracting new people,” Grech says. 

He added that the party will continue announcing new candidates in the coming weeks. 

Asked about the influence Daphne Caruana Galizia and her followers had on the party, something that had been flagged in PN election defeat reports, Grech insisted that he will let no one take decisions for him. 

“I only want my country to move forward. I can give this country an alternative,” he said. 

Asked about claims made in court that his predecessor Adrian Delia had received or solicited money from Yorgen Fenech to block David Casa’s re-election bid in the European Parliament election, Grech said the former leader denied the allegations publicly and in private. 

“I spoke to Adrian Delia… if any proof that is factual emerges, I will take the necessary steps even at the expense of causing turmoil within the party,” Grech said. 

Delia has vehemently denied the allegations, which were made by Keith Schembri in court. 

With reference to recent court developments in which 11 people, including former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, were charged with money laundering and other financial crimes, Grech said the Prime Minister had no merit for this. 

“What we are seeing today is the result of two inquiries initiated because Simon Busuttil requested them after no action was taken when Daphne Caruana Galizia uncovered the information way back,” Grech said. 

He insisted that former prime minister Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela continued to defend Schembri. 

“Robert Abela has defended Rosianne Cutajar and defends someone in his Cabinet, who allegedly was involved in a major crime… he hasn’t had the decency to ask his ministers for an explanation,” Grech said. 

The latter reference is to claims made by the men accused of killing Caruana Galizia, who insist they have information on a sitting minister who was involved in a major crime, which is believed to be the 2010 HSBC Bank failed heist in Qormi.