Nationalist MEP candidate Michael Briguglio has refuted suggestions that the PN has adopted an anti-foreigner sentiment under its leader Adrian Delia, arguing that Delia is merely flagging the widespread presence of cheap labour in Malta.
“Adrian Delia often gets misinterpreted but I’ve never heard him say anything racist or against people,” Briguglio told Lovin Malta. “What he often states is that the economy is based on population growth through cheap labour and exploitation. If there’s someone who is being unfair with these people, it’s [Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat who is basing our economy on cheap labour.”
While Delia has indeed made these arguments, he has also made a series of eyebrow-raising comments such as how “clans of low-quality foreigners are frightening children and making society poorer”
Questioned about this, Briguglio, a renowned campaigner for minority rights, refused to comment on the grounds that he wasn’t present for Delia’s speech, but urged people to read the PN’s MEP election manifesto to discover the party’s official stance.
“Politicians say many things, but we need to look at policies. The PN’s manifesto makes it clear that we’re against cheap labour and precarious work. I can’t understand how we’re about to celebrate Workers’ Day when there’s so much precarious employment.”
The manifesto calls on the EU to strengthen its external borders to better manage irregular migration, urges the Maltese government to further integrate foreign workers through language and culture training programmes and advocates a policy of “smart migration”.
“The PN is in favour of smart migration, that means workers from various professions, according to our need, and of high-quality people such as serious investors, researchers and artists who can transfer their skills to the Maltese people,” the manifesto states. “The annual migration of thousands of people to Malta is being instigated by the Socialist Government’s economic polices, and this can only be countered by a change in policy before it is too late.”
Briguglio claimed that the narrative that the PN has become a xenophobic party is being pushed by Muscat and his team.
“It was Joseph Muscat and not Adrian Delia who spoke about pushbacks, and the PN agreed with the EPP’s decision to expel the far-right Victor Orban from its group. We should speak about facts and not about narratives created by PL spin doctors.”
“Last week, I heard someone say the PN is a xenophobic party… I mean, come on. Both PN and PL are umbrella parties composed of people who lean towards the left and the right, but I’d never belong to a far-right or xenophobic party.”
“The racists aren’t in the PN but in [Norman Lowell’s] Imperium Europa. If you want to vote racist, you should vote for Imperium Europa and not PN because we are not a racist party but a party that believes in human dignity. There are no racists in the Nationalist Party.”
Yesterday, Serbian-Maltese national Alexandre Pevac, who will contest the upcoming St Paul’s Bay local council election as a PL candidate, delivered an impassioned speech at Labour’s General Conference.
Pevac accused the PN of “stoking the fire of hatred” against foreigners and said he feels hurt and betrayed by such rhetoric.
“How do I explain those words to my daughter?” he questioned. “Do I have to apologise to her that her surname is weird or that her name is strange? I want my daughters to feel safe her like everybody else.”
Questioned about this speech, Briguglio said that “Labour are very good at using people as souvenirs”.
“What Labour didn’t say is that many foreigners, including Serbians, are being used as cheap labour,” he said.
However, he added that he sympathises with Pevac, noting that his son attends a multicultural school and that some of his best friends are Serbian nationals
“Only yesterday, we were playing football with my son’s Serbian friends and I don’t like hearing people saying things such as that Serbians are invading Malta,” he said. “However, the reality is that some people don’t want to integrate and are being exploited through cheap labour. This is what the PN is addressing.”
Cover photo: Michael Briguglio at last weekend’s vigil for the murdered Lassana Cisse. Photo: Michael Briguglio (Facebook)