A group of dissenting Nationalist Members of Parliament who were warned they would be shown the door if they fail to fall in line behind Opposition leader Adrian Delia have dug in their heels as the party freefall continues. 

MPs Mario de Marco, Claudio Grech, Therese Comodini Cachia, Beppe Fenech Adami, Jason Azzopardi, Karl Gouder, and MEP David Casa pointed towards their long history of militating within the Nationalist Party.

Other members of the rebel parliamentary group, MPs Karol Aquilina, Ryan Callus, Marthese Portelli and MEP Roberta Metsola also said they would continue to work within the party for change.

They are among 17 members of the PN parliamentary group who want Dr Delia to stand down, and who were identified in a Facebook post on Monday night by Jason Azzopardi, who dubbed them '17 Blue Heroes'.

In a defiant speech on Sunday, Dr Delia said those who have dissented against his leadership could either toe the party line or leave.

The PN’s crisis was compounded after a recent survey showed more dwindling support for Dr Delia, sparking a chorus of disapproval among his dissenters who want him to step down. An executive committee meeting this evening is expected to discuss the fallout.

Contacted by Times of Malta in reaction to Dr Delia’s statement, the dissenters assured they would continue to fight for what was right.

Mario de Marco

Former minister and deputy leader Mario de Marco said a party is stronger and more appealing when it allows people to speak in different voices while respecting the party’s core values.

“I have always been one to air my opinion in my own way of doing and saying things. And I hope and trust that I have been respected by the party and its leadership for doing so. I see no reason why things should change,” Dr de Marco said.

Beppe Fenech Adami

Fellow PN heavyweight Beppe Fenech Adami said he had served and would continue to work as a PN MP to ensure the party he had dedicated his life to once again regained the support and credibility it deserved.

“I am taught and have learnt that no one is bigger than the party and no one is bigger than the electorate which voted me and my fellow MPs to serve in the manner we think is best for the common good,” Dr Fenech Adami said.

He said this was the best interest of the PN and, above all, the country.

Claudio Grech

Claudio Grech, touted by some quarters as a potential future PN leader, said he had given the best years of his life to the PN, as he always believed in what it stands for.

“I worked incessantly to build its policy profile year-on-year and my work is clear testament to that.

Mr Grech said he had strived to map out a way forward for a viable Opposition by taking the initiative to articulate a radical regeneration plan which is intended to revive the PN.

“As long as the party retains its respect for what it stands for, I shall keep on striving to be part of a process that delivers meaningful change to our society,” Mr Grech said.

Karol Aquilina

Karol Aquilina told Times of Malta he would continue serving as an elected MP in the party’s and country’s best interests.

“I am determined to ensure that the PN develops into a strong, credible and forward-looking party at the service of the country and as an alternative to the current compromised government”, Dr Aquilina said.

Claudette Buttigieg

Claudette Buttigieg said she had been a PN activist all her life.

“I have always looked up to the party leaders who put the national interest first. Nobody is bigger than the party. I feel proud of those I call my colleagues,” she said.

“With them, as an MP, I will continue to work for the good of my country and the honest people who elected me.”

She said there was a need to rebuild a strong Opposition, which is the only guarantee for a functioning democracy.

Jason Azzopardi

Vocal Delia critic Jason Azzopardi pointed towards his 30-year history in the PN.

“I was always taught by former party stalwarts to follow the line based on integrity and credibility, and which shuns short-termism, cronyism, populism and rabble rousing,” Dr Azzopardi said.

“That’s what I have tried to do and will continue doing within the PN. No matter the cost, the price, what or who. My home is the PN.”

Therese Comodini Cachia

MP Therese Comodini Cachia, who last week blasted the PN leader’s “fake parallel reality”, said the party line has always been credibility and respect.

“This is the line I will continue to toe so the party may once again be credible and respected,” Dr Comodini Cachia said.

Karl Gouder

Fellow MP Karl Gouder said he had spent the past 15 years in the PN trying to do what he felt was best for the country first and then the party.

“Experience has taught me that the choice is not between toeing the party line or leaving, it is always about what is best for the country. However, we have always been an open party that embraces differences in ideas. For me, it’s trying to do what is best for country and party,” Mr Gouder said.

Ryan Callus

Ryan Callus similarly pointed towards his history within the PN, where he had climbed up the ladder through the local sectional committee, the local council and eventually as an MP.

“I have always spoken up to what I believe is in the best interest of the country and party. This is how I believe I should toe the party line,” Mr Callus said.

Marthese Portelli

Marthese Portelli said she always toed the party line when it was in the best interest of the country and true to its values.

 

David Casa

MEP David Casa said his work within the PN had always been based on strong principles centred on what was best for the people.

“I have always worked with great leaders and statesmen within the PN. These same statesmen never held me back from voicing my opinion and steering my party back on to the right path when it has veered away.

“I will continue to serve my party and my country in this manner, now and in the years to come,” Mr Casa said.

Roberta Metsola

Fellow MEP Roberta Metsola said she is in politics to stand up for what she believes in and give a voice to those who need it the most.

She said the PN’s values were her own, and that was the line she always has and would follow.

“[But] I believe that those values are not being given the importance they deserve. Then I will speak up in their defence, as I always have, and the PN, unlike Labour, is the party that allows for that to happen. It’s one of our strengths,” Dr Metsola said.

“I believe the PN should remain open to everyone and become again the party of choice for the majority. That means accepting, encouraging even, critical voices and continuing to embrace the mosaic of ideas we all bring to the table under the umbrella of our overarching values,” she said.  

 

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