The UK must factor Gibraltar into any post-Brexit negotiation with the EU, the Gibraltar Government said in a briefing paper to British MPs highlighting the importance of the European single market to the Rock’s economy.
The six-page document was sent to Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, and outlines the Gibraltar Government’s concerns about the potential impact on Gibraltar of a UK withdrawal from the EU.
The position of the Government of Gibraltar is that the UK and Gibraltar should remain in the EU, and this is made clear in the briefing paper.
But the Gibraltar Government also sought to underscore fears that a Brexit could undermine the Rock’s economic model, reating uncertainty that Spain might seek to exploit.
In the document, No 6 Convent Place urges MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee to be aware of the serious implications of the EU referendum for Gibraltar.
“In the event of a vote to leave the European Union, it is imperative that the United Kingdom’s negotiation of a new relationship with the EU, from outside it, takes into account the views of the Government of Gibraltar,” the briefing paper states.
“It is essential that the United Kingdom Government guard against attempts by Spain to take advantage of the present situation by advancing their claim to Gibraltar.”
The document highlights the importance of access to the single market to the financial services and gaming sectors.
It said the UK government must “underpin a commitment” to include Gibraltar in any future agreements to access trade and markets in the event of a Brexit.
The Gibraltar Government also underlined the importance of free flow across the border for both commerce and individual workers.
“Access to the single market and free movement of persons, capital and services are essential to Gibraltar,” the briefing paper adds.
Another area highlighted by the report submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee is security.
The Gibraltar Government said EU membership contributed significantly to Gibraltar’s security as a result of arrangements made under EU justice and home affairs legislation.
It signalled issues such as extradition, information sharing and airport security as key areas where cooperation was strengthened un European legislation.
“It is probable that if Gibraltar was not in the EU, Spain would be significantly more reluctant to cooperate with its authorities,” the briefing paper says.
“This would impact negatively on law and order in the region.”
The document also sketches out the history of Spain’s sovereignty claim over Gibraltar and the UK’s commitment to upholding the Gibraltarians’ right to self determination, including the double-lock assurance that there will be no change or dialogue on sovereignty against their wishes.
But the Gibraltar Government nonetheless notes that “…the threat from Spain to Gibraltar’s democratic, political and economic well-being remains real.”
It illustrated that point by referring to recent statements by Spain’s acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, José Manuel García-Margallo, in which he made clear that the Partido Popular would seek to exploit a Brexit to further Spain’s sovereignty claim.
“European Union law provides a framework of protection for Gibraltar to safeguard it against the excuses of a hostile Spanish Government in Madrid,” the document says.