New PN Secretary General Francis Zammit Dimech has strongly suggested the party is open to welcoming Franco Debono back into its fold should the criminal lawyer and former PN MP wish to return.
Asked by Lovin Malta in an interview whether the PN’s doors were open for Debono, Zammit Dimech said that while he won’t delve into specific cases, the party’s doors should be open to all “genuine” people, including those who had disagreed with the party in the past.
“In general terms, I’d make a distinction between people who had left the party structures for personal egoistic considerations, not to say even for purely financial considerations, as opposed to others who had points of disagreement with the party but who could be available to discuss those points with us,” he said. “If they are willing to be of service to the party, I believe our doors should be wide open to them.”
Pressed on which category Debono falls under, Zammit Dimech said the former MP was “very emphatic on the principles he believes in”, strongly suggesting he is open to Debono making a comeback.
Once considered one of the PN’s bright young stars, Debono left politics in acrimonious circumstances in 2013.
As an MP, Debono had proposed a range of criminal justice and constitutional reforms, including the right to an attorney during police interrogations and a law regulating party financing, but the PN government back then didn’t take them on board. Eventually, Debono cast the crucial vote which forced the resignation of Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici and his vote against the Budget famously brought down the government, forcing the country into an election which Labour won by a landslide.
However, Zammit Dimech (back then a PN MP) had stuck his neck out for Debono, saying Mifsud Bonnici’s resignation could have been avoided had the government put Debono’s motion for reforms up for discussion in Parliament.
Seven years have passed since then and while Debono is no longer involved in politics, he has maintained an interest, regularly publishing blog posts and appearing as a guest on talk shows.
Recently, Zammit Dimech’s predecessor Clyde Puli said he has started to sympathise with Debono, thanks to the behaviour of Adrian Delia’s critics within the PN parliamentary group.
“What are these people doing that’s better than what [Debono] did? What did [Debono] do that’s worse than what they’re doing? Why is he out [of the party] and they’re inside it? These are the sort of questions I’m asking myself.”
PN MP Claudio Grech and MEP Roberta Metsola also recently denied a report by iNews that they had opposed a potential comeback for Debono after such a topic was brought up at a parliamentary group meeting.