A FEW days ago,Ministers from the Gibraltarian government arrived in London, the reason to discuss several questions that need urgent replies? this included the most important one of all Gibraltar after Brexit?
A week before their arrival Gibraltar celebrated something called National Gibraltar Day, the locals were joined as always by tourist those who had crossed over from Spain, and those who had arrived by cruise ship for a day’s shopping.
The streets were bedecked with Flags and bunting, kids with balloons smiling as they would do when enjoying the day, one balloon broke away from its young owner and floated gently in the light breeze over Trafalgar, not certain where it would end up. A bit like the question of Gibraltar as Brexit creeps on.
So, nothing is different there really, you could say every day is Gibraltar Day when the sun shines, except things could become rather awkward for Gibraltar and the Gibraltarians residents.
50 years ago, in 1967, the Rock voted by more than 90% to remain British it come as no surprise to all of us, however at the referendum in which Britain voted to leave the E.U. Gibraltar voted unequivocally to stay in the E.U.
This is the conundrum that now faces Britain, Gibraltar and the European Union, so far to my knowledge the Gibraltar question has not come into play during the Brexit talks between David Davis Britain’s negotiator and Michel Barnier for the E.U,but when it does arrive it could hang over the talks like a storm cloud, or even upgrade to a hurricane?
What will happen? Will Britain write off Gibraltar as a lost cause, no they cannot afford too as Gibraltar has been Britain’s lynch pin in the Mediterranean for Centuries.
Will Gibraltar be forced into holding another referendum, almost certainly not likely after their last vote was so clear in staying.This is a dilemma for The Government is almost an impossible task to resolve.
I spent around an hour trying to get some comments on the GIb/UK position, however I failed miserably, my call telephone call to Gibraltar Governments Press office failed to get a response, “If you look up our website, you may find something there that may help you” a spokesman said, in London the Gibraltar office suggested the I called Gibraltar, maybe these are highly paid people to answer questions put to them by people like me, are they getting money for nothing? I think so.
During the National Day celebrations, The Chief Minister Mr Picardo, seems to reverse the early decision when he said that Brexit would pose and “existential threat” to Gibraltar owing to the border with Spain and asked Whitehall somehow to allow Gibraltar to stay in the E.U. “We will leave with the UK, Britain sticks with us and we stick with Britain, Gibraltar will prosper greatly”.
But what would Gibraltarians say after the referendum vote to remain in the E.U. a local business man told me, “The referendum was a joke, why go to all that trouble, and expense, I am slightly relieved that Spain or the E.U. will not penalise us if we leave with Britain, that’s if they stand by their word”.
A young lady selling perfumes told me “I voted to remain, but on looking at what is happening in Europe, and the huge rise of immigration in Spain,
And the way Britain looks as if it is going, then I would be happy to leave as well.”
A shop owner commented “we reply on the Brits, that come shopping from the mainland and then cruise ships, they like to spend money, so whatever happens with remain or exit, as long as we can have shoppers”.
Mr Menez started his business 21 years ago as a small glass blowing work shop , he received funds from the E.U for his centre of Town factory, he said that the biggest issue we are facing, is a free flowing border for people visiting Gibraltar, and the goods we import, such as raw materials we buy is exclusively bought from the E.U. it has to travel through the European Union, to get to us, but if it faces a difficult Spanish border then I will have a problem in the same way it affects us being able to export our goods to the world, so the uncertainly is very bad for me and others in the same position”.
Will it mean that many of the 96% of the 32,000 residents on the Rock that voted to remain are changing their minds, it’s a possibility, as the signs of growth in Britain are looking more optimistic
MPs were supposedly told by Mr Picardo at a private lunch that he had spoken to Gibraltar’s business bosses and told them “maybe we got it wrong, he was “hugely optimistic that we will be able to negotiate our way through this difficult moment, in a way that does not affect our prosperity”.
But after consulting the Rock’s nonplussed business bosses – who do 90 per cent of their trade with the UK mainland – MPs claim Fabian Picardo told them at a private lunch “maybe we got it wrong”.
So what will happen next for Gibraltar, now most of the threats are slowly evaporating, another referendum, no I don’t think so I don’t think Picardo would gamble his position away, but if Gibraltar did leave without a final consultation with its 32.000 inhabitants what would the remainders say, one remainder told me “ politics is like a bloody game of cards you place your bet on what you hope will be a king, and a joker turns up, they supposed to represent us, but as soon as the going gets tough the weak get going MPs are useless”.
We will have to wait and watch as the Brexit negotiations continue to creep on at a snail’s pace, there has been a lot of hand shacking, smiles. between David Davis and Michel Barnier, however behind all that Bon Homme I still think that Barnier and the E.U. will try and pull a few fast ones on us.
As for the little girl watching her balloon slowly drifting aimlessly up into the air above Trafalgar not knowing where it is going, or where it will land, can the same be said for Gibraltar? Only time will tell.