Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has called on Gibraltar to turn out in force at the June 23 referendum and vote to remain in Europe.
In an opinion column for the Chronicle, Mr Picardo said the referendum on EU membership had united the Rock’s politicians and would be “a defining moment” in Gibraltar’s modern history.
He said Gibraltar must signal to the UK, the EU and the world that it wants to retain free movement of people, capital, goods and services, and the right to trade freely with UK, with Europe and the world.
“Our message must be united and clear,” he wrote.
“A huge Gibraltar vote to remain is the only option that will get that message across.”
“The EU is far from perfect. But voting to remain in it is the right choice for Gibraltar.”
Mr Picardo said that despite gloomy headlines in recent weeks about the negative impact that a Brexit could have on the local economy, leaving the EU “will not destroy” Gibraltar.
He said there were many questions marks as to what would happen in the even of the UK withdrawing from the EU and that the only certainty was that it would create uncertainty.
And while a Brexit might create opportunities too, Gibraltar had more to gain from remaining within the bloc.
“Yes, there are always winners and losers with major change,” he said.
“But in terms of Gibraltar we are agreed, across the political, commercial and trades union spectrum, that the losses with a leave vote far outweigh any benefits.”
Mr Picardo also reflected on recent statements by Spain’s acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, who was “excited” at the thought of gaining leverage on sovereignty through a Brexit.
“Well, whatever the outcome of the referendum let me be very clear: we will never surrender to pressure from Spain,” he said.
“Gibraltar will always remain ours.”
“Gibraltar belongs to the British Gibraltarians and that is not going to change.”