EU referendum: Gibraltar and the UK go to the polls

EU referendum: Gibraltar and the UK go to the polls

Polls have opened and the people of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom are now tasked with deciding if Great Britain should remain in the European Union or leave.

The polls in the run-up to the big day have suggested the referendum result is on a knife-edge, with neither side able to surge ahead in the final weeks.

A record number of voters are eligible to take part in the referendum with the Electoral Commission putting the number at 46,499,537 – including 24,117 voters in Gibraltar.

Torrential rain in the UK has threatened to hit turnout in the already knife-edge vote. with turnout seen as key to a result that polls place as too close to call, unseasonal downpours across London and the South East could impact on voter levels as bad weather tends to have a negative influence on the number of people who cast their ballots.

But by 10am, local time, nearly 4,000 people had voted in sunny Gibraltar in the historic referendum including a host of local politicians.

“Today as usual we are seeing Gibraltar vote in peace in the way that it always does when the festival of democracy comes to town,” the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said after casting his vote at the Central Hall polling station earlier this morning.

“Today the vote is not just in Gibraltar but also in the rest of the United Kingdom as we have been enfranchised by the Prime Minister as he promised he would in this seminal referendum: whether the UK and whether Gibraltar should remain part of the European Union.”

“Today is not a day to campaign, everybody knows which side I am backing,” said Mr Picardo adding that today is about seeing people have the right to express their view and to determine the future of both the UK and Gibraltar.

 

After casting his vote Mayor, Adolfo Canepa, said it was one of the biggest days in the life of Gibraltar but expressed ‘worry’ and ‘concern’ with how the vote may unfold in the UK.

“I know what it was like to live for all those years when the frontier was closed and I wouldn’t like to put my children and grandchildren through that again and what may happen if Britain votes to leave it’s going to be as bad as that,” he told the Chronicle.

“So I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that common sense will prevail,” Mr Canepa said, adding: “Enough people in the last few days may have changed their minds as a result of [the killing] of Jo Cox and those who are undecided may decide they should not identify themselves with a murderer but should vote to remain.”

 

Every single vote counts, Chairperson of the ‘Gibraltar Stronger In Europe’ campaign, Gemma Vasquez said earlier as she urged anyone who has yet to vote to do so.

“Polls are very tight, it’s been like that since the outset,” she said, adding: “Hopefully that tells everyone that we need every single vote.”

GSD Leader Daniel Feetham cast his vote at the Plater Youth Club. He told the Chronicle: “We’ve got to remain positive, the reality is that the arguments put forward by Remain have been very credible, cogent arguments particularly on the economy.”

 

“I will be voting how most Gibraltarians will vote today. I think this is probably one of the most important decisions we have had to take in our history; even when we look at the 1969 referendum and the other referendum,” Minister for Economic Development Joe Bossano said as he cast his vote at the Senior Citizens club in Town Range.

“This is not just a decision for us, but we are participating on something that will affect the United Kingdom and the European Union and it would really be a disaster for the UK to pull out.”

“For us there is no doubt there are only pluses and no minuses,” Mr Bossano said.

Minister for the Environment Dr John Cortes arrived at polling station No. 12 at midday with his grandson who he let slot his ballot paper into the box.

He told the Chronicle that the vote is crucial for Gibraltar, the United Kingdom and Europe. “In the wider context in a world that’s under threat of terrorism and climate change, we’ve really got to show that we can work together as communities of nations.”

“My message for the people of Gibraltar is please vote with your heart,” GSD MP Edwin Reyes said. “Please think not of the Gibraltar of today but of the Gibraltar we so much want to leave for our children and our grandchildren and the only way we can give them any hope for the future is by remaining in Europe.”

“Even as members of Europe look how Spain treats us, I am old enough to remember the Franco days and those closed frontiers. The tears in my eyes having to speak to family members by shouting across, that is inhuman but that is Spain not only of the 1960’s but the Spain of the 21st century and we cannot afford to give them an inch because they won’t take a mile they will take 100 miles at least.”

“So vote in, please do so for my children, for my grandchildren, your children and your grandchildren sake,” Mr Reyes said.

After casting his vote in the landmark referendum, Neil Costa, Minister for Employment highlighted how Gibraltar had flourished over the past 40 years as a result of the benefits of membership of the European Union.

“I think that it would be a grave mistake and political madness to leave so my message to everyone is come out vote and make sure our present and our future is safeguarded,” he said.

Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon told the Chronicle: “The message has been made very clear by every political leader and everybody who has been campaigning for this and of course I don’t think there is much left to say but please vote if you haven’t voted already to remain in the European Union.”

“Yes we are a drop in the ocean and we know that but one vote can tip the scale and if that vote is us then it has to be us and we have to stay in Europe because it is the best thing for Gibraltar.”

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