Brexit has brought Gibraltar and the UK’s devolved administrations closer than ever before, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia said yesterday as he highlighted “historic and deep” links with Scotland.
Dr Garcia was speaking in Glasgow during the Gibraltar reception on the sidelines of the Scottish National Party’s autumn conference.
Scotland’s External Affairs Minister, Fiona Hyslop, welcomed the Gibraltar delegation to Glasgow and declared her support for Gibraltar’s right to self-determination.
Dr Garcia highlighted Brexit-related work that was being undertaken by the Gibraltar Government with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including meetings at the highest political level with the First Ministers of the former two nations.
He also referred to the educational link which was embodied in the many students from Gibraltar who had chosen to study at Scottish universities over the years.
Dr Garcia also explained that Health Minister Neil Costa held “very useful discussions” in Glasgow with Scotland’s Health Minister, Shona Robison.
Dr Garcia offered a historical snapshot of Gibraltar’s relationship with Scotland, including how Scottish Regiments had contributed to the defence of Gibraltar over the centuries, including during the Great Siege when British forces were led by a Scotsman, General George Augustus Elliott.
Dr Garcia also explained the background to the 1967 and 2002 referenda, including how the latter had been held in the face of opposition from both the UK and Spain.
He stressed though that despite the fact that the UK did not agree with it and did not want it to happen, there was no attempt to prevent our people from casting their vote.
The 2014 referendum in Scotland, which was agreed between London and Edinburgh, was “a further shining example of democracy in action”, the Deputy Chief Minister said.
“History has shown that swinging truncheons and brute force will never bury an ideal,” he said.
Outlining the Rock’s constitutional relationship with the UK, Dr Garcia said Gibraltar enjoyed “Devo-Max” because the Gibraltar Government was responsible for everything except defence, external relations and internal security.
Dr Garcia said that Gibraltar did not want Brexit and did not vote for it, but was now engaged in trying to secure a deal in line with its priorities.
He declared that in this day and age the principle of self-determination was paramount and that a people, however small, enjoyed the right to determine their own future.
“This is people power and this is what democracy is all about,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Garcia and Mr Costa had the opportunity for a detailed exchange of views with the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, at the Gibraltar stand which was located in a prominent part of the exhibition hall.
The First Minister asked a number of questions and spent some time in discussions comparing Gibraltar and Scotland.
She was given an outline briefing of Gibraltar’s Brexit priorities and shown the physical layout of the land border with Spain and the airport area from a huge aerial photograph which formed part of the display panel.