Prime Minister Joseph Muscat avoided questions about his political future on Tuesday, refusing to commit himself when asked if he had changed his mind about resigning by the end of this legislature.

Replying to questions at the end of a special Cabinet meeting, Dr Muscat insisted that he was completely focused on the forthcoming Budget.

“I was very clear when I said I was not only working to present the Budget but to implement it,” he said.

The Prime Minister was speaking in Santa Venera. 

Questions on Dr Muscat's political future were raised in the wake of the declaration made last Sunday, when he said he would stay on after the Budget. He has previously made it clear he intends to step down during this legislature. 

His remark on Sunday fuelled speculation that he would be staying on, especially after he had failed in his attempt to secure a top job within the EU as part of the new Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen.

Sunday’s declaration by Dr Muscat was made at a time when there were clear signs that candidates touted to succeed him in the leadership, such as Health Minister Chris Fearne, Transport Minister Ian Borg and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi were jockeying to secure an early advantage, once the race would be called.

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On Tuesday, Dr Muscat remained vague when pressed on his political future. 

“I will be working on the Budget and will stay on after the Budget,” he insisted.

When it was pointed out to him that his reply could give rise to various interpretations, the Prime Minister insisted he had always expressed himself in a clear manner.