A war of words over an MEP's critical assessment of the Maltese government descended into farce on Twitter on Saturday, as a local MP reached for the memory of abducted child Madeleine McCann to make her political point.

Labour MP and former Qormi mayor Rosianne Cutajar appeared to suggest Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes had no right to express concern about the lack of progress in finding the people who commissioned the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia – because police in Portugal never got to the bottom of the McCann abduction case.

“In Malta investigations have led 2 d arrest of 3 suspects in under 6 months and prosecution is underway,” Ms Cutajar tweeted. “I love Portugal but if you want to make comparisons, could u tell us how many people were prosecuted so far regarding the abduction of Madeleine McCann? (11 YEARS ago)”.

Last Friday, MEP Ms Gomes slammed the Maltese government on multiple fronts and said minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri were "liars". 

Ms Cutajar’s McCann reasoning prompted criticism from other Twitter users including Ms Gomes herself, who said the Maltese MP “should be ashamed of trying to make this comparison”.

“I draw a parallel between two horrendous cases and @AnaGomesMEP tries to silence me,” Ms Cutajar replied. “So much for freedom of speech.”

As criticism mounted, the Qormi MP doubled down and told Ms Gomes – a career diplomat, former ambassador and MEP of 12 years’ standing – that she had “found your match.”

Her combative mood spilled over into Sunday morning, with the MP tweeting a graphic from a Malta Today survey suggesting Joseph Muscat’s trust rating is up among voters along with a good morning message for Ms Gomes. “Hope to see you again very soon,” she wrote.

The survey results are likely to have left Ms Gomes nonplussed. At a press conference on Friday, the MEP lambasted the Maltese government for its several questionable deals and said “an election does not clean up a record of corruption.

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