In My Opinion by Gemma Vasquez, Chairperson of the Gibraltar Strong In Europe Campaign
There are several instances in Gibraltar history, which have stood out as being of seminal significance. This is one such occasion. As with the 1967 and 2002 referendums – this is a pivotal event. This is a vote which defines the direction that the Gibraltarian economy and Gibraltarian society will take for generations to come. This is a defining moment in our history.
It is a moment to reflect upon what Gibraltar achieved over the past four decades. We have become self-sufficient. This is something which is very easily said, but it has been an enormous accomplishment for a community of 30,000, which was wholly dependent on the Ministry of Defence and the Dockyard. Now, not only are we self-sufficient, but we are huge contributors to the entire Campo area. A huge achievement for 30,000 people!
And now we come to a vote which goes to the very fabric of what we have built over four decades. It is a decision which affects the very core of our economic prosperity.
We have worked hard as a community to implement EU legislation; and much of this legislation has given us the building blocks to build our financial services economy, our funds sector, and our insurance sector. Freedom of movement has allowed 10,000 people to cross the frontier on a daily basis to fill positions of employment which Gibraltar has created. Sometimes this movement of people has been more troubled than others – but when things have been particularly bad at our border, the EU has come down to defend our rights at the frontier from our oppressive neighbour. The EU has been there to defend our rights when Spain wanted to impose a toll at the frontier and when border checks have been excessive.
And of course, we also have the Spanish Foreign Minister. Senor Margallo is saying that he will want to speak on the Gibraltar issue on 24 June, if Britain leaves the EU. Make no mistake; he has been clear that he believes a Brexit will give him leverage to pressure us on joint sovereignty, in spite of a referendum result which makes clear the Gibraltarian view on joint sovereignty. The answer is’ no’ whatever but we should vote REMAIN to keep the weapon which Europe’s defence of basic rights give us against the such undemocratic forces.
To those that say the Gibraltar vote does not matter: remember two things.
- The George W Bush Presidential election in 2000 had a re-count that occurred following the unclear results of the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The Florida vote was ultimately settled in favour of George W. Bush, by a margin of only 537 votes out of almost 6 million votes cast. There are times when EVERY VOTE COUNTS.
- David Cameron, a serving UK Prime Minister was to address a crowd in Gibraltar on Thursday in Casemates on the EU Referendum, a signal to Gibraltar that our votes count and Gibraltar matters. We know why the rally was called off but Mr Cameron did not turn round his plane, he stayed and made sure the message of his support was loud and clear.
The voice of Gibraltar needs to be heard loud and clear. We need to send a message to the UK and to Europe, that we, as a population of 30,000, want to remain IN the EU, as the EU has provided us with the framework for our prosperity and security against an aggressive neighbour.
Faced with all of our political parties uniting, when all of our previous chief ministers are uniting, when all of our unions and business associations are agreeing, it is time to sit up and listen to the message which is being given.
For our sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of the economic prosperity of generations to come, please go out to vote tomorrow and vote to REMAIN in the European Union.