Though the Office of the Prime Minister has welcomed in principle the Opposition’s offer to form a united front to deal with the Brexit challenges, such a scenario still looks unlikely, at least for the time being.

Exactly a week ago, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil extended “a hand of cooperation” to the government saying he would offer the PN’s “significant experience” in EU matters to get the best outcome for Malta.

[attach id=517039 size="medium"]The Prime Minister says Malta is prepared for a Brexit. [/attach]

The PN leader made the offer in his first reaction to the June 23 vote in which the British electorate opted to terminate the UK’s EU membership after 43 years. Dr Busuttil’s remarks had raised hopes that the two major parties might for once put their differences aside on EU matters, so as to mitigate the backlash on crucial economic sectors like tourism from the UK.

Earlier Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had allayed such concerns saying that Malta was fully-geared for the Brexit scenario as for several weeks government had been running models and “simulations” of the possible implications that such outcome could have on the island.

Asked by the Times of Malta if the government was ready to engage with the Opposition on the Brexit issue, a Prime Minister’s spokesman last Saturday welcomed the PN’s offer but at the same time raised doubts.

“While the government welcomes and works with anybody who is ready to pull the same rope in the national interest, in the prevailing circumstances, including the Opposition, it would be much wiser for the Opposition leader and his party to refrain from talking down the country abroad at every opportunity,” the OPM spokesman said.

PN leader Simon Busuttil has said his party has the experience and credibility needed to negotiate at EU level.PN leader Simon Busuttil has said his party has the experience and credibility needed to negotiate at EU level.

He added that political parties should always act responsibly and not just in times of difficulty for the country. The spokesman, however, was not very forthcoming when asked to present the details of the “simulations” referred to by Dr Muscat.

While reiterating that each ministry had prepared its own studies and possible consequences of Brexit, no further details were divulged.

“The simulations show that while politically we will have challenges, economically, generally speaking, there are opportunities,” the OPM spokesman told this newspaper.

On his part a Nationalist Party spokesman yesterday confirmed that the Opposition had not received any feedback from the government on Dr Busuttil’s offer, at least by the time of writing.

“Unfortunately, six days after we made our offer, the government has not only refrained from making any public comment on our offer, but no approach has been made,” the PN spokesman said.

He noted that the Opposition was willing to help the Maltese government in the upcoming EU-UK bilateral talks, which would pave the way for Britain’s exit from the EU.

“With all modesty, the Nationalist Party believes it has the expertise, experience and credibility when it comes to negotiations at this level,” the spokesman said.

Reacting to the doubts raised by the OPM spokesperson, the PN said that it had always been on the right side of history while accusing the PL of adopting populist tactics that had failed to live up to national interest.

Dr Busuttil’s offer for close government cooperation was also echoed by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in an opinion piece published on The Sunday Times of Malta. Dr Gonzi urged Dr Muscat to engage with the Opposition’s while expressing regret that the government was not utilising the PN’s “high level of experience and expertise” on EU matters.

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