Joe Garcia

Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday gave a firm commitment to Gibraltar that it will not be let down in the Brexit negotiations. Speaking in parliament, she said that the UK government will ensure that negotiations will cover Gibraltar as well as the UK. 

With MPs standing up in favour of Gibraltar, confirming the strength of feeling there is in parliament for the people of Gibraltar, one MP recalled that Spanish prime minister Rajoy had been speaking about Spain having a veto over Gibraltar.

Rajoy had said: “Whatever future agreement between the EU and the UK, there has to be an agreement between Spain and the UK for that to apply to Gibraltar.”

He said Spain had also asked his EU partners that this applies to the transition period.

This has been the line taken by Spain’s Europe minister who spoke blatantly when he said last week that if there is no separate deal between Spain and the UK, Gibraltar will get nothing.

This notion that there would be no regulations in place in March 2019 unless Spain and the UK engage in bilateral talks, was a matter for great concern in parliament yesterday as MPs, including Bob Neill, who was hailed as a champion of Gibraltar, had Mrs May reiterating the strength of the UK support for Gibraltar.

The MPs wanted a firm commitment that Britain would not countenance any agreement unless it included Gibraltar - and they got that commitment from the prime minister, who was well briefed on Gibraltar, as one would expect.

What the UK wanted was the best deal for Britain which must also work for Gibraltar, she said.

“When we negotiate a trade deal we will be considering Gibraltar as part of our negotiations,” she added.

What emerged clearly from yesterday’s debate was that whether in the negotiations, in the final agreement or as regards the transition period that is envisaged, Gibraltar would be included.

The firm stand taken by Mrs May will clearly not go down well in Madrid where they keep harping on the prerequisite of bilateral talks if anything is to apply to Gibraltar.

But MPs yesterday were even demanding that the trading agreements between the UK and Gibraltar, let alone with the EU, would be upheld, which is important as trading links with the UK are said to represent some 90% of Gibraltar’s income.

What became evident is that Gibraltar has many friends in the UK parliament who are ready to uphold the interests of the people of Gibraltar, which they have uppermost in their considerations.

Gibraltar is a hot political potato and it would be difficult for any government, even if they wished to, which is not the case as evinced in parliament yesterday, to wriggle out of the very firm commitments emanating from parliament, which coincide with the repeated assurances that have been given to Gibraltar’s leaders in the numerous negotiations and meetings that have already been held over the Brexit issue, which have left Gibraltar’s position crystal clear.


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