Claudio Grech tipped to replace Delia as Opposition leader

PN MPs give Delia chance to leave but fail to say what happens if he doesn’t

PN MP Claudio Grech
PN MP Claudio Grech

Claudio Grech is the preferred choice of the majority of PN MPs to replace Adrian Delia but any change is unlikely to happen immediately, MaltaToday reported yesterday.

Grech’s name appears to have garnered consensus among the 19 members of the Nationalist Party parliamentary group during a meeting held yesterday afternoon.

However, in comments to journalists outside parliament, Chris Said insisted MPs delivered a message, which he hoped would be taken up.

Sources said the MPs were searching for a solution that avoided the prospect of having Delia occupy the role of party leader, while someone else occupying the role of Opposition leader.

However, they did not rule out some form of détente in which Delia would stay on as party leader and Grech occupy the role of Opposition leader with the understanding that he will front the next general election.

Delia lost the support of MPs in a confidence vote held yesterday but vowed to stay on as party leader.

The PN leader turned up in parliament this afternoon and sat at his usual desk. At one point, he was approached by Grech, who tapped Delia on the waist and the two spoke for around 10 minutes.

Sources said Grech was against a rapid move to depose Delia as Opposition leader in a bid to convince him to reach an agreement of sorts.

But in comments to journalists just after leaving parliament, Delia indicated he had no intention of leaving and insisted that he would try and convince MPs to work together.

Meanwhile, Chris Said ruled out any interest in the post of leader, adding that MPs will issue a press statement later today to explain the way forward.

MPs’ statement

The PN MPs who voted against Delia then released a statement yesterday evening, in which they gave Delia a chance to leave but failed to say what their next step is.

The communication was signed by Chris Said and Therese Comodini Cachia, the two MPs who pushed the vote of no confidence in Delia last Tuesday.

This was the first public statement since the vote, which Delia lost by 19 votes to 11.

However, the statement gave no indication of what steps the rebel MPs will take and if so, within which timeframes.

The MPs met yesterday afternoon amid growing anticipation that they would be going to the President to remove Delia from Opposition leader after yesterday’s vote.

“We appeal to Adrian Delia to put first and foremost the party and this country’s interests in these dire circumstances. We are as ever determined to continue to act in the best interest of the country and the party,” the statement said.

Deputy leader’s disappointment

Nationalist Party deputy leader David Agius said there is no vacancy yet for Opposition leader, as he voiced concern that the country’s focus was not on government corruption.

Agius said he voted in favour of party leader Adrian Delia during Tuesday’s vote of no confidence pushed by rebel MPs.

The deputy leader told journalists gathered outside parliament yesterday afternoon that so far, Delia remained the leader of the Opposition and the party.

“I have confidence in Adrian Delia but we have to understand what the situation is and act accordingly… I voted in favour of Adrian Delia and he is the leader of the Opposition and the party, as members wanted and I respect that. When and if there is a process that dictates otherwise we will act accordingly,” Agius said.

Visibly disappointed by the situation the PN had found itself in, Agius regretted that instead of focussing on government’s corruption, the country was debating the Opposition.

“We have a grave situation in the country and we need the PN to be very strong right now... it is subjective to say the PN will be strong without Adrian Delia. We need to be strong collectively to stand up to government corruption and defend the interests of ordinary people,” Agius said.

Other PN MPs declined to comment as they entered parliament.

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