Health Minister Chris Fearne has skirted questions on whether he was vying the Labour Party leader position, insisting only that Joseph Muscat had everyone’s backing and that there was no vacancy for the post. 

Asked about his leadership plans following reports that party heavyweights had embarked on unofficial campaigns to seek support, Mr Fearne on Thursday insisted that there was no vacancy for the post. 

“The Labour Party has an undiscussed leader who is Joseph Muscat. He enjoys the support of the entire Parliamentary group and the party’s executive. There is no vacancy for the post of leader,” Mr Fearne said when questioned about his personal ambitions. 

When pressed to state whether he would be interested if the vacancy arose, he did not reply. 

“I am proud to be deputy leader and deputy Prime Minister. I am honoured to be working close to Joseph Muscat on a daily basis and I hope to be able to continue to do so for the years to come,” he said.

The Times of Malta reported this week that an unofficial race had begun in the party’s internal circles by those who are the top contenders for the job. 

A leaked internal poll conducted recently and seen by Times of Malta has Mr Fearne in the lead, with MEP Miriam Dalli in close second.

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Controversial minister Konrad Mizzi comes in third, followed closely by the youngest contender, Transport Minister Ian Borg, with MP Robert Abela trailing fifth.

Dr Muscat has pledged to step down before the next general election, although details remain scarce. Close advisers of the Prime Minister say he will not step down any time soon.