Britain has “an unshakable commitment” to guarantee “a seamless continuation” of UK market access for Gibraltar-based business after Brexit.
That was the message delivered by Steve Baker, the Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, during a debate in the House of Commons last night.
“Access to the UK market for Gibraltar is already protected by law and it is the unshakable objective of the UK Government to ensure the seamless continuation of existing market access into the UK and enhance it where possible,” he said.
The message will further strengthen business confidence that the UK will protect the ability of Gibraltar-based companies to sell services into the British market.
The UK market accounts for around 94% of all business done by Gibraltar-based firms under EU single market rules, meaning continued access is vital to the Rock’s post-Brexit prosperity.
In financial services, where trade where trade between the UK and Gibraltar is deepest, market access is guaranteed by the so-called Gibraltar Order on the basis of Gibraltar’s participation in EU structures.
Mr Baker acknowledged the need to introduce a new legislative framework with which to maintain UK market access provided by the Gibraltar Order.
“It is likely amendment of that order will be necessary to ensure it continues to function as intended after EU withdrawal,” he said.
Pressed by MPs including Conservative Bob Neill, the chairman of the Gibraltar all party parliamentary group, and Ian Paisley, from the Democratic Unionist Party, Mr Baker stuck to his script but repeated the commitment several times.
“We will deliver on our assurances that Gibraltar will enjoy continued access to the UK market for Gibraltar businesses, based on the Gibraltar authorities having already agreed to maintain full regulatory alignment with the UK,” he insisted.
And he added: “Let there be no mistake, we are steadfast in our support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy.”