Michael Briguglio (right) with former PN leader Simon Busuttil at an anti-corruption protest. (Photo: Facebook – Michael Briguglio)
Nationalist MEP candidate Michael Briguglio has insisted that the starting point for reconciliation within the fractured party must be respect for the election of Adrian Delia as leader.
“Politics comes with right and responsibilities, which includes respect for democratic processes,” Briguglio told Lovin Malta. “I didn’t support Delia when he ran for leader but he was elected through a system that, after all, Simon Busuttil had created himself. This was a historic democratic process within the PN and democracy must reign supreme.”
“Although I had backed Chris Said in the leadership campaign, I respected democracy and always found open doors in the PN. I cannot speak for others but I imagine they would find open doors too.”
The PN is in the throes of internal warfare after Delia removed his predecessor Busuttil from his shadow Cabinet and urged him to suspend himself from the party in the wake of the Egrant inquiry findings. Busuttil has refused to do so, accusing Delia of being in cahoots with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
The friction has split the PN’s parliamentary group down the middle and reconciliation efforts between the two factions are now underway, spearheaded by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, former EU Commissioner Tonio Borg and PN MEP Francis Zammit Dimech.
Michael Briguglio urged PN MPs to accept Adrian Delia as their leader
Briguglio refused to comment on whether Busuttil should step down or not, merely noting that Delia’s decision was backed up by the PN’s administrative council.
“I have lots to say, but if they are related to the party’s structures, then I will deal with them internally and not on social media,” he said. “It’s up to Simon whether or not to accept the invitation, but I believe everyone should strive towards reconciliation and the basic starting point of this should be respect for democracy. The PN’s members spoke clearly last year.”
Briguglio urged PN MPs to follow the example set by their colleague Chris Said – who had rivalled Delia in last summer’s bitter leadership election.
“You often see Chris Said attending and speaking at PN events and on TV programmes,” Briguglio said. “He has respected the democratic process and I think other MPs should follow his example. I meet a lot of PN voters and what strikes me most is that several of them want unity. You need compromise and dialogue, but MPs must respect that Delia is their leader.”
‘I always said Egrant was just an allegation’
During last year’s election campaign, Briguglio was one of the main faces in Simon Busuttil’s campaign, which focused heavily on the Panama Papers – including the allegation that the company Egrant belonged to the Prime Minister’s wife.
He even addressed an anti-corruption protest held in the wake of the Egrant story, in which he dismissed the magisterial inquiry into the allegations as “fake”.
“We are not stupid and nobody is taking this inquiry seriously. They have turned us into a banana republic,” he said. “The facts are there. All the proof you need is on the internet. This matter is like a jigsaw puzzle slowly coming together. Once completed, it will only read corruption.”
However, Briguglio insisted with Lovin Malta that he had always referred to the Egrant story as an “allegation”.
Joseph Muscat addresses the public after the Egrant inquiry findings
“I made it clear from day one that Egrant was not Hearnville or Tillgate, where there was undeniable proof of wrongdoing from [Tourism Minister] Konrad Mizzi and [OPM chief of staff] Keith Schembri,” he said. “The Egrant allegations pointed to suspicions that the company belonged to Joseph Muscat, but it was always only a suspicion. Yes, it was a very strong theory but we had no idea that there were forged documents. Some of the inquiry’s findings, such as the CCTV footage on the Pilatus Bank chairman, is very difficult to ignore.”
Briguglio said that Maria Efimova – Daphne Caruana Galizia’s informer for the Egrant story – has a lot of questions to answer but played down calls for her extradition to Malta.
“Give that Daphne was blown up, I still think it’s unsafe for her in Malta,” he said. “There are different ways in which she can be questioned. She’s in an EU country [Greece] after all and not in North Korea.”