The bestowing of a knighthood on Sir Joe Bossano represents a ‘huge vindication’ of the legitimacy of the political stands he has taken since 1972, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told Parliament yesterday as he led MPs in honouring the Father of the House on his achievement.
Ahead of the first question and answer session of the New Year, the 17 MPs across both sides of the House each in turn took to their feet to congratulate Sir Joe and reflect on his impact on local politics.
Following the outpouring of sentiment from MPs Sir Joe reflected on the “astonishing” response to his knighthood.
“I did not expect that almost every sector in Gibraltar and every person that I’ve known either as a friend or a foe would be so happy to see it happening,” Sir Joe said.
“When the whole of our community celebrates something we do something that is the envy of the rest of the world, when we all share in something and we see it as a collective good, and we see that every year on National Day when we put our differences to one side and we are one people and I think when we are like that about an individual what is happening is a good thing.”
After opening the session, the Speaker of the House Adolfo Canepa – previously a political rival of Sir Joe – said that throughout his “remarkable” 45 years of public service Sir Joe has always fought Gibraltar’s corner without fear or favour.
“I am delighted that his well deserved knighthood can also be enjoyed by his wife, now Lady Rose Bossano, who has been a pillar of strength for him,” Mr Canepa added.
In his tribute, Mr Picardo said Sir Joe had done ‘more than most’ for the local community.
He reflected on how Sir Joe had guided Gibraltar through the ‘difficult period’ when the Ministry of Defence was withdrawing the amount of spending it made in the Gibraltar economy and flagged how he led on issues such as mandatory scholarships for university students, land reclamation and community care.
Sir Joe, who currently holds the role of Minister for Economic Development, received a knighthood in the Queens’s New Years Honours List for 2018, in recognition of his services to Gibraltar.
Sir Joe, a former Chief Minister, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.
“No one in the modern era has done more for Gibraltar to remain British than Joe Bossano sometimes even in the face of the British,” Mr Picardo added.
“Her majesty could have chosen no better knight to continue to guard against any erosion of her unhindered dominion over British Gibraltar,” he said.
The Chief Minister further indicated that the Government will bring a motion before the House in order to bestow on Sir Joe the Freedom of the City.
Leading the tributes from the opposition benches, the leader of the Opposition, Elliott Phillips, flagged Sir Joe’s “unquestionable commitment” to Gibraltar and warmly congratulated him on the honour.
He added that the beneficiaries of mandatory university scholarships owe Sir Joe a “great debt”.
Deputy Chief Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party, Dr Joseph Garcia, told the House that one of Sir Joe’s ‘truly remarkable traits’ was how throughout his 45-year political career he had taken positions based on principle and not popularity.
GSD MP Daniel Feetham, formerly a member of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party under Sir Joe’s leadership, told MPs that he returned to Gibraltar in order to follow Sir Joe.
He further highlighted two principles Sir Joe had instilled in him and that he had carried throughout his own political career.
These include being resolute in the defence of Gibraltar and the importance of the Rock living within its means.