Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had an argument with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat after the latter urged him not to try and succeed him as Labour leader, according to a report in The Sunday Times of Malta.
Both papers quoted anonymous insiders as stating that Mizzi has been sounding up PL delegates about a potential campaign to succeed Muscat, who has repeatedly pledged to step down before the next general election. The sources in both cases expressed surprise at Mizzi’s ambitions, given his involvement in the Panama Papers – one of the longest-running sagas in recent Maltese political history.
The Times’s report included another nugget of information, namely that Mizzi had an “argument” with the Prime Minister himself, during which Muscat urged him not to contest the upcoming leadership election.
“It surprised us when we heard that Konrad [Mizzi] was making calls despite being told not to,” the source said.
— Konrad Mizzi (@KonradMizzi) March 3, 2019
However, Mizzi insisted this was a fake story.
“The Times of Malta published a fake story about a ‘meeting’ with the Prime Minister, which never took place,” he tweeted. “Four-square behind Joseph Muscat; mutual respect.”
Despite the Panama Papers, a recent MaltaToday survey put Mizzi as the third most popular minister – behind only Transport Minister Ian Borg and Health Minister Chris Fearne. Crucially though, Mizzi is the second most popular minister among PL voters, behind Borg but ahead of his district rival Fearne.
Both Borg and Fearne have been heavily touted to run for the upcoming PL leadership post, as have MEP Miriam Dalli and MP Robert Abela.