Cold War-style Checkpoint Charlie borders can be avoided after Brexit with “pragmatism and goodwill”, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told a House of Commons select committee yesterday.
Crossings must not be used as “choke points” for political reasons, Mr Picardo added, as he explained the working of Gibraltar’s border with Spain to MPs on the Commons’ Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
He was giving evidence to the committee as part of its investigation at Westminster into the Irish border and said he would visit Northern Ireland soon, where he is scheduled to meet DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill as Brexit talks in Brussels intensify.
Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin was the most famous crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War and came to symbolise divisions between the West and the Soviet Union.
But Mr Picardo said cooperation on both sides of a border could ensure the free flow of people and good.
“Nobody is going to accept something which looks like, feels like, smells like Checkpoint Charlie,” Mr Picardo said.
“Don’t see a border as a way of creating conflict, that will only cause real hardship.”
Mr Picardo said that with “goodwill and pragmatism”, the border could remain fluid even after Brexit.
“We must not allow anyone to use a border crossing as a political choke point,” he said.
Mr Picardo said Gibraltar’s experience was that Spain had on occasion used the border as a means of applying political pressure on the Rock.
“I do hope that Spain will see Brexit as an opportunity of strengthening the links that there are between Gibraltar and the region around Gibraltar, the Spanish region known as the Campo de Gibraltar, and indeed the very strong links that there are between the United Kingdom and Spain,” he said.
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