It’s Black Friday. There’s nothing normal about shopping orgies, but let’s say normally people would be talking about how to avoid the queues and the jams and still get their bargains. I haven’t met a single person this morning who was remotely excited about discounted blenders. That’s how quickly l-aqwa żmien has turned into a nightmare.

There were moments on Tuesday afternoon when it felt the country was in complete meltdown. I could not get my students to talk about anything other than Konrad this and Keith that. The sky was dark with rumours. The internet, that great fact-faker and fact-checker in equal measure, was down. Outside my office, someone said the word ‘coup’.

If Shakespeare were around, he’d be writing about the sea turning to a red froth and mice eating cats. If Malta were a painting, it’d be a Magritte.

It’s that bad. The Prime Minister is single-handedly responsible for bringing the country to its knees. His bobbing and weaving, which won him a round or 10 in the past, is now hopelessly out of control. It has left him and the institutions of this country limp and bloodied in their corner. Invictus my foot.

I wrote last week that Joseph Muscat’s departure will do nothing to the Labour government and its great swell of popular support. I’m no longer so sure. Chris Fearne, who will probably take over when the inevitable happens, was there with Muscat at that bizarre early-morning press conference. Oddly for a Deputy Prime Minister, he did not stand right behind him. He also looked tremendously drawn. Still, there he was.

When Muscat leaves, and if Fearne does indeed become Prime Minister, he will probably have to call an election. If Muscat has lost all credentials to govern, the rest of them are quickly headed there by stubborn association.

None of this is remotely hyperbolic. Keith Schembri was never actually fired. He resigned – or, as the Prime Minister put it, ‘moved on’. Muscat stopped just short of saying he would be writing him a glowing reference.

Until Tuesday morning, Schembri had the run of the top decision-making office in the country. He was privy, in the strongest way possible, to the papers, phone calls and conversations in that office. A few hours later, he was being investigated for things that may have been contained in those very papers, phone calls and conversations. His boss knew about this all along, and left him there to eavesdrop and rummage at leisure. If this isn’t outrageous, I don’t know what is.

Get out, Sir, and letus pick up the pieces

The Prime Minister loves to remind us that anything he says might pervert the course of justice. He uses this to justify his method, which is to completely bypass the Commissioner of Police and drip-feed us information in cryptic doses, as and when he pleases.

He seems to take us for idiots, because it is not just words that can pervert the course of justice. How much more of a perversion is it to run things from an office which is head-manned by the very people who are directly concerned in that course of justice?

Muscat may or may not have deliberately perverted the course of justice. The point is that he put himself in a position that is wide open to that charge, knowingly and over an extended period of time. If it ever comes to that, Keith Schembri’s lawyers will have a field day.

As will Yorgen Fenech’s. Fenech, it is worth remembering, has said under oath that he knows certain damning things about Schembri. The way to that information was the pardon he didn’t get. If true, that information would have rocked the government of which Schembri was, until a few days ago and well into the investigation, a key mover.

At which point the scent of incest gets too strong to follow clearly. The only bit that isn’t is that the Prime Minister could have avoided all of it by simply firing Schembri, or by distancing his office from the investigation and letting the Commissioner do the talking. We’re expected to believe that Muscat, the master lipreader who can detect the finest nuance of statecraft, failed to see that one.

The bumbling and deception go on and on. For weeks, Muscat has been putting on his most grave of faces to tell us that certain decisions were for him alone to make, that he had stopped consulting the Cabinet or anyone else, and that he would shoulder full responsibility.

All of that changed suddenly at 3am on Friday morning, when he told us he had recused himself from the most important Cabinet meeting of them all. It seems suddenly to have hit the Prime Minister that he had a monumental conflict of interest. Or maybe he just decided it was alright to put his own colleagues in an impossibly embarrassing situation and let them sort out the mess he created. No wonder Evarist Bartolo walked off. “He was here a minute ago,” the Prime Minister half-quipped. Yes, Dear Leader, that’s exactly the point.

Muscat likes to tell us that this is the moment the country needs his leadership the most. He’s right, except for the possessive determiner. Get out, Sir, and let us pick up the pieces. Your legacy’s a shit of a country, and it will take your colleagues’ best energies to do the cleaning up.

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