The choice between no deal and bad deal, says Azopardi in New Year message

I wanted to wish you and your families a happy and healthy 2019 on behalf of myself and all of us in the GSD, says GTSD leader Keith Azopardi in a New Year message.

This will be a year of challenges for Gibraltar which will necessarily impact on all of us. There is no doubt, for example, that as we get closer to the BREXIT deadline the consequences of the choice between no deal and the bad deal on the table can be quite negative.

 The truth, he says, is that very few people think that the Withdrawal Agreement is good for the UK and good for Gibraltar. For us in Gibraltar the deal agreed by the Government will allow Spain a say in our affairs and permanently protect Spanish frontier workers while delivering nothing enduring on freedom of movement beyond the 21 month transitional period for us. It is just a bad deal and a lost opportunity.

The Government may have had hundreds of meetings on the subject of BREXIT but ultimately they must be judged on results. After more than two years of scurrying around they have come back to Gibraltar with very little to show of any enduring value or real imagination. Much time has been lost and there has been little by way of a positive attempt to lay the foundations for a far-reaching recalibration of our future relationship with the EU.

The Government says that this is because that would be done in the next phase of negotiations but the reality is that the bedrock for future understandings could have been laid now – as it has been in the case of Northern Ireland. In Gibraltar’s case there has been a total failure of achieving something more imaginative or lasting.

No-one knows what will happen when the UK Parliament vote on the Withdrawal Agreement next week. If the Agreement is approved then attention will turn to the next phase of negotiations on the future relationship. Given how little Gibraltar has achieved in the last two years we are not convinced that the Government has any real strategy or ability to achieve a good permanent deal for Gibraltar. If the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected and the prospect of a no deal exit materializes then we will all find out whether the no deal planning that the Government says it has been doing is adequate to protect our economy and way of life.


He goes on: At a time of such serious challenges for Gibraltar on BREXIT or public finances experience and competence are crucial when you come to choose your representatives. There is no substitute for that. It is important for Gibraltar to be led in a safe, secure and careful path by people who you can trust will deal with Gibraltar’s interests in a serious way.

I have to tell you that despite the clear challenges that we face on those fronts I am as excited as ever of delivering on a fresh agenda that radically changes the way we are governed and delivers real changes and benefits to people. I believe that can be done with the right ideas and the right way of doing things.

So for example there needs to be a new deal for agency workers. And not just in the civil service. An end to the culture of parallel labour where workers performing the same tasks are treated differently while the agency company benefits. It is not right that people do not get leave entitlement or are paid less just because of the way they are employed when, in reality, they have been doing the job as good as permanently.

In a very lenghty address, Mr Azopardi adds thsat Gibraltar needs a new deal – in housing, in the environment, in drugs and rehabilitation, healthcare, for the elderly, for persons with disabilities, for young people, for those in need. Too often the most vulnerable in society who require comparatively little get ignored and there is massive or wasteful expenditure on things that just don’t make sense. For example why spend money on the Ministers VVIP enclosure on entertainment for the Government and their friends at the music festival instead of on nurses, teachers or the disabled. We need to see a return to prudent financial management so we can create a strong sustainable future for our community – so we can reach out and benefit those in need.

I want to see a Gibraltar where there is real equality between men and women. I want to see more women in politics. I want to see an end to discrimination, real integration and equal access to benefits for those long-term residents of the various minorities that make up our community.

I have no doubt that we can do all that. But we need your help in making that happen. Many people are joining the GSD to help us make that change. If there is no change of direction the Government will continue to spend money as if there is no tomorrow while not having a real plan for the future. All that needs to change and change soon.


During this year you will have a chance to make a choice as to who should govern Gibraltar at this next important phase in our history. We intend to roll out a fresh, exciting and comprehensive programme for the future with a strengthened team of competent experienced individuals. You will find us ready for that challenge and confident to carry out that vision on your behalf, he ends.