Malta’s foreign affairs minister Carmelo Abela has something of a history with the newly appointed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson used to be British Foreign Secretary between 2016 and 2018, which gave Abela plenty of opportunities to develop a relationship with him.
The new UK Prime Minister is renowned as a joker, and indeed he also had an inside joke with Abela.
Abela told Lovin Malta he recalls an informal encounter back in August 2017, when Johnson visited Malta to discuss Brexit, the Commonwealth and the situation in Libya.
“Our exchange of views took much longer than it was supposed to,” he recounted. “I remember telling him that I couldn’t stay very long as I was traveling abroad on government duty the following morning and that I still had to pack my luggage.”
“From that point onwards, every time we met he kept asking me if I had once again left it till late to pack my luggage.”
Moreover, Malta’s and the UK’s seats are adjacent to each other at EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings, which put the two politicians in close proximity with each other.
Abela said he and Johnson used to frequently engage in informal conversation, ranging from traditional chats on British nationals living in Malta to conversations about their families or events that would have just taken place.
On a professional level, he said he enjoyed a good working relationship with Johnson and that the two held talks on the necessity of ensuring the best possible relationship between the UK and Malta once the former leaves the EU.
Coincidentally, Johnson is actually the second consecutive British Prime Minister to have had a working relationship with Abela. Theresa May was the UK’s Home Secretary back when Abela was Malta’s Home Affairs Minister, and Abela said the two “used to work closely together as counterparts”.