Former Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Sir Simon Hughes is on the Rock to lend his support to the campaign for Gibraltar to stay in the European Union along with the United Kingdom.
At a press conference yesterday the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, flanked by Sir Simon and Gemma Vasquez, who heads the Gibraltar Stronger In Europe campaign, set out the case for Britain and Gibraltar to stay in the EU.
Sir Simon, a ‘long time friend of Gibraltar’, said there is huge support for staying in the European Union in parts of the UK and less support in other areas.
“My strong instinct at the moment is that people in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland and Gibraltar understand very well the strong arguments for being in the EU and the work has to be done to persuade the rest of England to be as supportive…so that all four countries in the UK vote yes and Gibraltar votes yes in the referendum in June.”
Should a ‘Brexit’ occur there would suddenly be an entirely different frontier between the Rock and Spain and an entirely different sort of barrier between Gibraltar and the rest of Europe, the former Lib Dem Deputy said.
“I think it would be difficult to imagine. Of course we would survive…but if we want to be prosperous and lead and make sure that the success of Gibraltar and the success of the UK grow then we must stay in the EU,” Sir Simon said.
Britain is the only country that has ever contemplated leaving the EU, Sir Simon said, adding: “It will be a terrible blow to the UK but also to the concept of the European Union if the UK were to make the wrong decision and decide to leave.”
Of the principle benefits of EU membership Sir Simon said these include being part of the biggest ‘economic player’ that is available, the huge opportunities for internal and external trade and a general improvement in social security.
“We need to stay because London is the financial centre of Europe,” he added.
“If we were not in the EU does anybody believe that businesses in the financial sector wouldn’t potentially look to Frankfurt or to Brussels?”