Gibraltar must get a Brexit deal that reflects and protects its special status, for example by retaining free movement of people with Spain, say two of Britain’s biggest pro-European groups.
In a pamphlet launched yesterday at an event in London with the Gibraltarian Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Open Britain and British Influence said that Gibraltar must be given the same assurances as Northern Ireland – that there will be no greater border controls after Brexit than those which currently exist. 12,000 people cross the border from Spain into Gibraltar every day for work, and Gibraltar’s economy would be badly damaged by any greater restrictions on their freedom of movement.
The pamphlet’s other main recommendations are:
- Gibraltarian businesses, especially those in the services sector which dominates its economy, must be given the maximum freedom to participate within the Single Market.
- The UK Government must guarantee that it will match the EU funding Gibraltar has received after we leave the EU. The €60m invested in Gibraltar by the EU since 2000 has created around 3,500 jobs on the Rock.
- Workers’ rights laws enshrined by UK membership of the EU must be maintained after Brexit, to prevent exploitation and discrimination.
- 99 per cent of the population of Gibraltar voted for continued UK sovereignty in a referendum in 2002. This must be respected. Therefore, the UK Government should guarantee that it will not agree to anything which dilutes Gibraltar’s sovereignty or makes a change in sovereign status seem more appealing, unless that occurs with the explicit will of the Gibraltarian people.
- The Government of Gibraltar must be consulted and included at every stage of the Brexit negotiations, especially on issues that affect them in particular. In this respect, the Gibraltarian Government should be treated in the same way as the devolved Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Commenting, Julie Girling, Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, said:
“I welcome Open Britain and British Influence engaging with these issues now. Their paper, launched today, outlines six priorities the UK Government should have for Gibraltar in negotiations.
“Most important is retaining free movement of people on the Spanish border. Gibraltar recognises and encourages this free flow of people as fundamental to the proper functioning of its economy. Any stringent border controls would give Spain a brand new opportunity to lock Gibraltarians, and Spanish citizens, out at the border. This must be avoided.
“My message to the UK Government is clear: Gibraltar’s Brexit priorities must be a central part of the UK’s Brexit plan. If departure from the single market will hurt Britain, it could devastate Gibraltar.”
Notes to editors:
The full pamphlet is available here: http://openbrita.in/2VELE4