Labour MPs take different tack
While Labour Leader Dr Alfred Sant has been clear that
the issue of EU membership has been decided, several Labour MPs are
not so sure. None of the MPs contacted yesterday wished the referendum
result to be ignored, none claimed that Partnership had
won, and none excluded a possible referendum on membership should Labour
be elected in the forthcoming election.
Labour shadow minister for Education Evarist Bartolo said he was very
happy with the referendum outcome. He said his reaction is similar to
that of former Prime Minister Gorg Borg Olivier following the referendum
on integration with the UK in 1956. The then Nationalist
party had called for a boycott and following the result Borg Olivier
said 40 per cent of eligible voters had not voted and therefore the
motion, for which 45 per cent had voted in favour, could not be carried.
Bartolo said he has an open mind as to whether another referendum should
be held, and told The Malta Business and Financial Times that the outcome
of the referendum "should not be ignored."
Referring to the results of the Local Elections Bartolo said the outcome
indicated interesting result in Rabat, Malta "The result in Rabat
is a continuation of the swing in favour of the MLP that started last
Local Elections and now three northern districts, the others being Mellieha
and Mtarfa, have labour majorities."
Asked why Rabat swung towards Labour, Bartolo said it might well have
been the negative performance of the outgoing council that swung the
The PN lost the majority of seats it enjoyed in Rabat for the first
Labour MP Jose Herrera believes the result of the referendum should
not be ignored, speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times,
he said: "I had never said the result of the referendum should
be ignored, it should be considered. I expected a bigger yes
vote because of the strong campaign of the pro-EU camp but the idea
of a referendum after the elections should not be discounted."
Asked by The Malta Financial and Business Times whether the Partnership
ideal had won, Herrera said "I would not say that, my reading of
the result is that the parties are neck and neck."
Herrera said the referendum should have included another question to
find out whether people wanted closer ties with the EU without joining.
Asked for his reaction on the results of the Local Council, Herrera
said the increase of the PN side was slight and the result was not alarming
for the MLP. He said the results indicate there were many Labour supporters
that did not vote.
MP Chris Cardona said he expected an unequivocal result: "The referendum
was called by the government and the yes vote has the resources
of the government, MIC and others, who expected to obtain at least fifty
percent of the electorate."
Cardona said the major significance of the outcome was that the government
side did not achieve its aim.
Asked by The Malta Financial and Business Times whether the result of
the referendum could be ignored he said: "No major decision like
this should be ignored. What will happen rather depends on who is elected
to government. I dont exclude that another referendum could take
place, but so far the Labour party is not committed to that idea."
Cardona said it was too early for him to comment about the Local Council
elections, but said he believed the MLP directive not to vote seems
to have been followed.
Shadow Environment Minister Joe Mizzi was not enthusiastic to comment
on the outcomes. He said "the results are there for all to see."
Pressed for something more substantial Mizzi could only repeat that
the majority of the electorate had not voted for membership.
Quizzed about what Labour might do if it is elected to power Mizzi could
only say: "When we enter Parliament we will decide."