Chris Fearne says he will let historians analyse why he lost the Labour leadership race last year, after former prime minister Joseph Muscat conceded that his wife had campaigned for the winner, Robert Abela.
In an interview with Times of Malta published earlier this month, Muscat said that while he had not expressed an opinion on the race to replace him at the helm of the Labour Party, his wife Michelle had backed Abela.
“The truth is Michelle did speak with some people and expressed the fact she favoured Robert Abela. I did not intervene,” he said.
Asked on Tuesday whether he thought this had undermined his chances at the time of the race, Deputy Prime Minister Fearne struck a diplomatic tone.
“We in the Labour Party, maybe contrary to others, choose to focus on that which unites us,” he said.
Fearne said he would leave it to political historians to analyse what had happened in the 2019 leadership race.
“I can say that the two contestants, both Robert Abela and I, understood that the country and the party comes above any individuals,” he said.
He added that as soon as the leadership election had finished, both he and his rival began working side by side.
Abela was elected Labour leader in January 2020, just three years after becoming an MP and with no former cabinet experience.
During the race Abela had stirred controversy when he had said he was not willing to make any "deals with the devil”.
Although he never confirmed what this deal was, party insiders had said it was likely an agreement that would have seen Fearne run uncontested with other contenders given senior positions in return.
Abela had also filed a request for an internal investigation into concerns Fearne's team were meddling with the election process.
Ultimately, Abela soundly beat his more favoured rival, securing 57.9 per cent of the vote, in what is likely to go down as one of the biggest upsets in contemporary political history.
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