The domino wobbled, toppled and fell, felling some more in the process. There might be more, many more still to fall, but we can only follow developments as they unfold, while continuing to demand the full truth. 

We have seen years of bland denials, and we were faced with accusations of having been the source of the damage to the country’s reputation. As more and more reports had come to light, the main players were inexplicably protected. Last week, facts finally started coming to light, from the initial dripping tap to the open floodgates of earlier this week.

I shall not bore you with the details of the facts that have now stepped up firmly to replace what had previously been described as allegations. You know them already. I shall neither comment about the ongoing work being done by the investigators, since it is not my job, and as a lawyer, I am well-aware of the need to avoid comment on the tangled web of criminal responsibility surrounding the whole affair. 

Political responsibility is, however, another kettle of fish, and it is my duty as a politician who loves my country to lay out in no uncertain terms what the international reputation of our country needs. 

The facts available identify the Office of the Prime Minister as having hosted activities connected with large-scale corruption, and with the gruesome assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon, but Joseph Muscat did not. On the contrary, the devil seems to have been comfortably ensconced in his kitchen, where only the most intimate of friends are invited to dine. 

The beautifully lit façade of Castille was hiding whatever was being cooked up in the dark nooks and crannies of a building that, using Joseph Conrad’s term in Heart of Darkness, was converted into a ‘sepulchral’ building – flashy on the outside but rotten on the inside.

For years, the Prime Minister, at best, looked the other way, and used sleight of hand and all the machinery at his disposal to try to have all of us also looking the other way. 

We did not, but there were many who had trusted him, and still trusted him, and therefore took his empty declarations at face value. 

Those people today feel betrayed and shame has descended like a blanket on many people who, although having had no part of it, believed that the accusations were simply partisan jabs at Muscat. 

They were not.

Resign, acknowledge your political responsibility and apologise to the Maltese people for having been complicit in hoodwinking them for so many years

Now is not the time to adopt a partisan stance. Now is not the time to feel smug, or to say ‘I told you so’. It is far beyond that. 

As Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne surgically put it, the damage done to Malta’s reputation is close to being irreparable. 

He minced no words in attributing the responsibility for that damage not to those of us who incessantly voiced our concerns, defending the interests of the Maltese people in all fora. 

He laid the blame squarely at the feet of those who perpetrated and had a part in all this mess that defies description. That includes the political responsibility of the Prime Minister.

Having inexplicably, and to the consternation of even some of his most loyal supporters, shielded those under the spotlight for so long, Muscat has de facto associated himself with them. Without  accusing him of any criminal involvement, it has become plain to all that his has become the face to all this tangled web. 

He talks about himself acting responsibly, but his political responsibility for this debacle means that in reality the only responsible way forward for him is to step down immediately, and remove himself from being the symbol of so much ugliness. 

Surely, rallying supporters for a show of force and asking for them to express solidarity with him over the minor grief he has suffered at the hands of a justifiably angry crowd is not responsible. 

Surely, the advice given to him by Martin Scicluna to ‘wield the knife’ is outright wrong.

Muscat, do the right thing, and give the possibility to somebody else to lead your party and the government. Do not let the scrambled frenzy to salvage your own personal reputation be at the expense of Malta’s. 

Resign, acknowledge your political responsibility and apologise to the Maltese people for having been complicit in hoodwinking them for so many years. 

And, finally, give due recognition to her assassinated because of corruption – Daphne Caruana Galizia. She showed what true dedication and commitment is all about. May she soon be able to rest in peace.

Roberta Metsola is a Nationalist MEP.

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