Labour politicians are breathing a sigh of relief after Joseph Muscat was overlooked for the EU Council President job last night, as it means the party won’t be forced into an early leadership race.
“While I toast the new European leaders, I once again urge Joseph Muscat to keep leading the Labour Party and Malta for many more years, so that we can keep on winning together,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, seen as one of the favourites to succeed Muscat.
Waqt li nifrah lill-mexxejja l-godda Ewropej, nerga' nheggeg lil Joseph Muscat jibqa’ jmexxi l-Partit Laburista u lil Malta ghal hafna snin ohra – halli nkomplu nirbhu flimkien!
— Chris Fearne (@chrisfearne) July 2, 2019
MEP Miriam Dalli, who has also been touted for the top job, described yesterday’s events in the EU as “a victory for Malta and the Maltese”.
“We now look forward to carry out more work in favour of our islands,” she said.
Economy Minister and deputy PL leader Chris Cardona said that Muscat did Malta proud by being considered for such a top job in the first place.
“He was the first Maltese person to be considered for one of the most high-ranking and prestigious jobs in the EU, which shows his impact on a European level and the trust he enjoys among European leaders,” Cardona said. “Thank you, Joseph – through your skill and vision, you have showed us that even the smallest country in the EU can compete with the European giants.”
Parliamentary secretary for the digital economy Silvio Schembri said that “Europe has lost but Malta has won” while Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said he feels privileged to work closely with a “statesman” like Muscat.
“Malta is in our hearts and Joseph is in our hearts,” Bonnici said, referring to the PL’s campaign logo for last May’s European Parliament and local council elections.
Muscat was asked about his failure to land the European Council President job during a press conference in Prague following a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
“Some media outlets had mentioned my name among the candidates [for the EU Council President job] but it is not up to me to comment on that,” he said. “What I can say is that I will continue my job as Prime Minister with more vigour.”