An agreement that restricted the UK’s ability to trade globally by tying it to EU regulations could amount to “death by a thousand cuts”, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said yesterday, even as he expressed confidence in a “pragmatic solution” at the end of Brexit negotiations.
Mr Picardo made the comment during an interview yesterday morning on CNBC, in which he said Prime Minister Theresa May and Brexit minister David Davis were engaged in complex negotiations that required leeway.
Asked whether Gibraltar favoured a soft Brexit, Mr Picardo said Gibraltarians remained committed Europeans who did not want to turn their backs on the EU.
But he added: “If by a soft Brexit we mean making the United Kingdom go into a death of a thousand cuts, where she stays in for the bad aspects of regulation and is not able to assert itself as a new trading player around the world, well then let’s hope that we don’t find ourselves in that situation.”
“This is a very complex situation. The United Kingdom needs access to the single market in services and in goods, [but] achieving that is not going to be easy,” the Chief Minister said.
Mr Picardo said the Brexit negotiations should be judged on their outcome, not on the difficulties that are faced during the process.
He said it was important that Mrs May and her negotiating team be given the space to reach an accommodation with the EU that worked for all, adding that British commitment to the rule of law meant it would not simply walk away from its obligations and liabilities to the EU.
“If that space is allowed, then I think there’s an opportunity for a positive outcome for all,” the Chief Minister said.
He added: “I think you judge a negotiation at the end, not in the middle.”
“I’ve been involved in many negotiations in my time where we’ve had a very good result at the end of a very difficult period of negotiation.”
The Chief Minster was also asked about Spain’s position on Gibraltar against the context of Brexit.
Mr Picardo said the Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis had adopted a markedly different approach to that of his predecessor, Jose Manuel García-Margallo, who openly Brexit as an opportunity to push Spain’s sovereignty aspirations over the Rock.
“Sr Dastis is much more sensitive I think to understanding the issues that the United Kingdom, Europe and Spain face together, and that Gibraltar should not be used…to derail Brexit whilst Spain tries to gain advantage on sovereignty,” Mr Picardo said.
“I think we are beyond that idea, but Gibraltarians are always going to keep a cynical eye open to ensure that nothing happens which might affect our sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over the entirety of British Gibraltar.”