Adrian Delia has defended his controversial warnings about the influx of foreigners into Malta, but rejected claims that he was driven by racial or xenophobic motives.

"I'm not advocating the politics of fear. But we never had these numbers and we didn't have these rent price problems. I am not a racist, anybody who knows me can vouch for me,” he told Times Talk.

The Nationalist Party leader said the government was determined to continue growing the economy by injecting thousands of foreigners into the country without any sort of planning rather than focusing on productivity.

On Monday, a group of NGOs slammed Dr Delia's comments about foreign workers, describing them as "abhorrent" and that they were intended to generate hatred, discrimination and violence.

But the PN leader insisted his words were being taken out of context: "There’s an influx of foreigners in a very short period of time. This has nothing to do with the colour of their skin. We don't know who they are, we don't know what exactly they're bringing with them. Where are they going to live?”

Rejecting any comparisons to Italy’s right-wing deputy leader Matteo Salvini, the PN leader said he strongly believed in a government’s humanitarian duty to save lives at sea.

As he marks his one year since being elected party leader, Dr Delia defended his party’s worrying opinion poll trends, saying he needed time to reorganise and restructure the PN and that the next general election was his target.

Without citing names, he said there were some who refuse to “rescind the power” they had in the past and still do not want to acknowledge him as party leader.

He admits that the scathing criticism levelled at him by slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had impacted his popularity among a sector of traditional PN supporters.

But he rejected claims that the PN parliamentary group hardly convenes, saying that contrary to the past, the MPs do not meet for a few sessions where "whatever had to be decided was decided beforehand".

Asked whether he still held any skeletons in the cupboard, he replied: "Anybody who knows anything about me can go out and say it. I have no fear at all."

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