The majority of the Nationalist Parliamentary group members have called on party leader Adrian Delia to consider his position in the wake of his dismal showing in a recent survey.
In a statement, they described as "incorrect" Dr Delia’s remarks at the end of Wednesday night’s group meeting when he insisted he still enjoyed the confidence of his own MPs.
According to the unsigned statement, verified by Times of Malta, 17 MPs urged Dr Delia to “consider” his position in the party’s and country’s best interests. Only four expressed themselves against the proposal, the statement read.
However Dr Delia dismissed the call on Thursday morning, saying that “diversionary tactics” should not shift the Opposition’s focus away from the government.
Doorstepped outside his office, Dr Delia declined to comment on what he said were matters that would harm the party by creating a “conflict which is unnecessary”.
Dr Delia said he would continue to fight all that is wrong in the country, and everyone needed to make an effort together. Asked if he would be bowing out as Opposition leader, Dr Delia said he had already given a statement about this.
The Opposition leader shocked MPs on Wednesday by declaring he would lead the PN until the next election, despite assurances minutes earlier during a five-hour parliamentary group meeting that he would reflect upon his future as leader.
He said he would not criticise his fellow PN MPs.
“My job is to criticise government. I am doing it, and will continue doing it. Fighting government everywhere. In court, in parliament, in the streets if need be. That’s my job. That is why I am in Opposition, that is why the people who voted me in, voted me in."
Growing number of MPs want Delia out
The meeting was attended by 25 of the 30 members (made of the 28 MPs and the two MEPs).
“The PN leader informed the group that he had taken note of what had been said and gave his assurance that he would come back to inform them about his decision,” the parliament group said.
Consequently, his statement to the media that he still enjoyed the group’s confidence was “incorrect” as there was a “clear agreement” that prior making such statement he had to inform the parliamentary group.
After the unsigned statement was issued, MPs began to publicly endorse it.
Claudette Buttigieg told Times of Malta: "We are letting our country down."
She said democracy "needs a good opposition. He has to leave and we need to make big changes to the party. I won't live another day with this on our conscience."
Karl Gouder and Chris Said also told Times of Malta they endorsed the call for Dr Delia to consider his position while Claudio Grech, who has been touted internally as a possible leadership contender, shared the statement on social media.
Beppe Fenech Adami said it "reflects what happened in the parliamentary meeting. I endorse the call."
The statement came hours after Jason Azzopardi became the first to express anger over Dr Delia's insistence that he had the party's support despite "what the absolute majority of the MPs told him bluntly".
MEP Roberta Metsola added her support to the parliamentary group. She said: "The PN is going through a moment of turmoil. Change is never easy...but we either change or we will die. Last night's meeting meant nothing can remain the same, the Parliamentary Group statement is clear."
Few MPs still support Delia
Those who spoke in support of Dr Delia during the marathon meeting on Wednesday included Clyde Puli and David Agius.