Now that the dust is settling

Carmen Gomez

Now that the dust is settling on the electioneering front, no doubt it will be time to look to the wider stage i.e. Brexit. The next few days will also no doubt be a time for the raising of questions and comments from members of the political parties, as to how they thought their parties presented themselves in their televised appearances etc. and whether the content of their manifestoes worked or not. Some candidates may even feel they were simply there to prop up others; if you know what I mean. 


As far as the populace is concerned we may well ask ourselves what we have deduced from the way the elections have been conducted recently in our community. A popular comment has been that they felt cajoled into the style of voting expected of them by their parties i.e. block voting.

Some will say that had it not been because of the unprecedented times we are facing, and unknown factors which could have serious consequences on our future wellbeing, they might have done things differently. Others will say that despite their loyalty to their particular party they were not convinced, or entirely happy, with how all its ministers had delivered on their portfolios in the last four years.

I would like to express my personal appreciation to one particular Minister who took over the Health Service portfolio when in Government, and has; if not revolutionised it; brought about a great many necessary changes and put them in place for the future wellbeing of all. He has carried on admirably from his predecessor, developing what ideas were in the making, plus creating new ones, and made them a reality. He has worked relentlessly and with total dedication in a post which I believe has to be one of the most complicated and difficult of undertakings of all. Thank you Mr. Costas, we are indebted to you, and I am sure you are going to be sorely missed by one and all!


But coming on to the battle in hand; there are those who say the Brexit panic is driven by private concerns, and not because it is going to destabilize the world. This could well be true; however the point is not so much who the driving force is, but the fact that it will most definitely impact on Gibraltar; of that there is no doubt. In what way and manner is still the unknown factor, which time no doubt will reveal. If you look at the history of Great Britain, one realizes it is no stranger to standing alone. Austen Chamberlain, the great British statesman known as the “Empire builder,” in his day referred to Britain’s awkward position in Europe, as being in a state of “Semi detachment.” I wish frankly that we could be in that position with Spain i.e. semi- detached in more ways than one.

Britain then was keen to forge alliances or establish close diplomatic ties; but there was never really a European ideal in their minds; and by 2016 they already dreamt of withdrawal. We on the other hand were of a different mindset; already considering ourselves Europeans; and keen to become part of the family; to be accepted into their fold. We have done well by them but what we failed to see however, was that we were part of a clan whose membership from day one, had never impressed the European family. This has worked against us.

Having said that, what happened a few days ago when our arch enemy Margallo tried to, as they say, “get one in!” and was rebuffed by Paolo Gentiloni the EU Commissioner on the Economy, it was a most reassuring moment and one that I am sorry to say, I gloated over!

Standing alone is something that Great Britain has done throughout the ages. History relates that in the 16th century, the country walked out of the Pope dominated European-wide Catholic world; a move which was then predicted as being their doom, but one which was proved wrong. Then again Great Britain stood alone against Napoleon and defeated him with its army at Waterloo, and in so doing stopped the unification of Europe under one leader. Obviously the mere hint of a federal state was never going to sit easy with them. We too know the meaning of standing alone, except in our case it was never a question of choice, but one of survival; and survive we did.


Will we survive this next challenge without paying a hefty price for it? Or will; contrary to what Mr. Hammond said some time back and I have repeated ad nausea; the UK Government be able to defend our interests without suffering any hiccups on the way? It has been said in the past that Spanish efforts to assert sovereignty over the Rock might as well be yet another quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom most in the UK “know nothing,” to use an unfortunate phrase.


Let us not forget that in June 1969 the land frontier was finally sealed but only after a five year campaign of restrictive measures clearly aimed at weakening the territory economically; as well as politically. We must now recall and remind those who are there to defend our interests, of the content of the conclusions reached in 2017; Under Brexit and the sovereignty dispute Parliamentary business; which were; “We urge the UK Government to remain alert in the longer term to any attempts by Spain to advance its territorial claims over Gibraltar through the medium of EU laws, or policies, when the UK`s “out of the room” after Brexit.”

The risk that Spain will seek to involve the sovereign dispute in future negotiations on UK-EU free trade agreements will always be there and the Government must be vigilant to resist any such attempt.