We have concentrated on the crisis, but we have not forgotten other domestic issues

We have concentrated on the crisis, but we have not forgotten other domestic issues

by KEITH AZOPARDI, Leader of the Opposition

Over the last 80 days we have all had to put up with restrictions on our freedoms, a lockdown, not being able to see friends or family or to go out. We’ve seen constraints on our ability to travel or to cross the border.

But what we have not seen is fatalities and that has largely been because of the discipline and respect with which the vast majority of you have viewed the lockdown rules. There is still a need for some self-restraint in days and weeks to come despite the onset of warmer weather and the natural desire to enjoy time out.

During the last two and a half months we’ve been working closely with the Government on issues relating to the pandemic so that we could, jointly, get Gibraltar through this. That has been our basic approach.

Who could have imagined when we turned the corner of the year and our eyes were set on BREXIT that there would be an even larger challenge ahead. And that this would be a challenge that was not just local or regional or even European. It would be global.

I made clear after the last election that as Leader of the Opposition the style I would adopt would be positive and constructive while at the same time robust and critical where necessary. This is not new because I have, for 30 years, believed in a positive style of politics that seeks, where possible, avenues of engagement and consensus so that we can achieve better outcomes for people. What else is politics about except finding solutions for people? In keeping with that philosophy, I made clear that if there were issues on which we thought we should work together in the public interest, we would.

So when this grave global pandemic happened and after my initial conversation with the Chief Minister on 13 March we worked together to ensure Gibraltar had the best outcome possible.

The measures that were taken after then changed the way we lived our lives. My colleagues and I had no doubt that these were necessary to ensure we quickly bought the health service time to get ready for a much wider deeper tide of COVID patients. The projections of hospitalisations or victims to COVID were such that we had no doubt in answering the call to help.


Our cooperation with Government at this critical time was to tackle the serious public health emergency and to save lives. This was essential and in the public interest. Because everyone has a brother, a sister, a mother or a daughter that could be affected.

But cooperation has not meant we have set aside our duties as the Opposition. We have been strongly challenging policies and putting across our own ideas, asking probing questions, seeking information and testing plans. Where necessary we have voiced concerns publicly. We have always kept in mind our role as your Opposition and the constitutional watchdog of the Government. We have not agreed on everything and have said so. But together we have been able to ensure Gibraltar was in a better place to respond to this crisis. We will continue to fulfil this role if this is needed to help Gibraltar through this crisis.

As a community we have done very well, so far, and much credit and our thanks go to the essential services and front-line workers who have stepped up to work hard in the preparatory stages of this crisis. But we must remain cautious as we try to emerge into some form of new normality.