This is not about inciting discord, says Phillips

The GSD says it notes the comments by Unite the Union, which we published yesterday, and the relevant contributions made by Elliott Phillips on the debate on the Tobacco Bill on 25 March.

Phillips says: "It is clear beyond doubt that the Government led the negotiations and have chosen to sign Gibraltar up to a deal which they said "was good for the UK and therefore good for Gibraltar". The Government are now saying that the "deal is the wrong deal for the UK and not the best deal for Gibraltar". The Opposition have been entirely consistent, the Government's deal is a bad deal and no amount of spin is going to change that. 

"On frontier workers the Government has chosen to accept a bad deal which protects frontier workers permanent but not our residents permanently. I stand by my statement and I repeat that the Government has given Spain a say in our affairs, failed to secure enduring benefits for this community and protected frontier workers permanently without anything in return.

"This is not about inciting discord. It is a statement of fact that there has been a negotiation and that frontier workers have been protected permanently. It is also a fact that in that negotiation the Government have signed up to a deal that does not protect our residents in the same way."

Extract of text by Mr Phillips in his contribution to amendments to the Tobacco Bill in Parliament on 25 March.

"Mr Speaker we have been clear, there is nothing in the MoUs that secures enduring benefits for our people, the deal provides for Spain having a say in our affairs and it protects frontier workers permanently. The Opposition has raised serious concerns over the Government's lack of strategic direction and inconsistent approach.

"We believe it was wrong for the Chief Minister of the day to align himself with the Prime Minister, it was wrong of the Chief Minister not to pursue a differentiated position for the people of this community and it was wrong for the Chief Minister to give away the biggest bargaining chip on frontier workers without obtaining anything permanent and enduring for Gibraltar"

Elliott Phillips puts his foot in, says Picardo

Meanwhile, the Government notes that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Elliott Phillips, has rightly had his ears pulled by Unite the Union on his disgraceful statements in Parliament that Gibraltar should use workers as "bargaining chips."

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said: "Mr Phillips has put his foot in it again. His judgement is suspect and his statements objectionable and populist. I am very concerned that Mr Phillips was inciting xenophobia by his extraordinary remarks in Parliament in the manner that we sometimes complain is incited against Gibraltarians in Spain.

"Additionally, Mr Phillips keeps getting it all legally wrong too. We have secured long term rights for Gibraltarians. All Gibraltarians who live or work in Spain (and there are a handful of the latter) have been assured the right to continue living there in future, even post Brexit, on the same terms as other EU nationals.

"Mr Phillips seems not to have understood that. Future rights for others, including future frontier workers, have not yet been negotiated or secured by anyone for anyone in the context of the EU / British citizens. The sooner Mr Phillips finally gets that, the better. If he just switches on a news channel, he can catch up on where we all are on those issues.

"These are febrile political times in the United Kingdom and in Europe. Gibraltar does not need to fall into the trap of political incitement of xenophobia for narrow, shallow and short term political gain. Mr Phillips needs to be more responsible.

"He does himself and his bitterly divided party a disservice when he falls into the trap of calling for people and their livelihoods to be used as bargaining chips. He shows himself up when he demonstrates he doesn't understand the legal issues that apply. He seems to be pandering to the hard Brexiteers in the GSD executive committee! His reference to workers as "bargaining chips" was a very unfortunate use of words. "Coupled with his very xenophobic statement about "using" foreign people and his very deep misunderstanding of the legal issues have colluded to perfectly illustrate Mr Phillips' lack of judgement. At least people can now see how little he knows, what he stands for and how bad his judgment is. Not worth relying on, not safe for Gibraltar and not worth voting for!"