Gibraltar’s Brexit concerns were aired simultaneously in the House of Commons and on the Rock yesterday as the Chief Minister addressed peers and MPs in London whilst the Deputy Chief Minister hosted a visiting delegation of MPs locally.
A group of around 20 peers and MPs attended an early breakfast briefing hosted by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in the House of Commons yesterday morning.
In Gibraltar, the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia is in the midst of hosting a cross-party group of UK Parliamentarians as part of a two-day working visit focusing on Brexit related issues.
According to Dr Garcia, the visit demonstrates the strength and support that Gibraltar has in the UK Parliament.
In London, the chairman of the cross -party All Party Parliamentary Group for Gibraltar, Bob Neill, along with members and friends of the group were given a detailed account of the issues facing Gibraltar as a consequence of Brexit.
The 90 minute session allowed MPs to question Mr Picardo and gain a better understanding of how discussions with the United Kingdom have progressed as well as the efforts to work with all EU members, including Spain, to ensure a withdrawal from the EU and transition period which works well for all sides.
Many well-known Gibraltar supporters attended, including Deputy Speaker of the Commons Lindsay Hoyle and his father Lord Hoyle, Dame Rosie Winterton, Baroness Harris, Baroness Hooper as well as Lord Hannay, Bob Stewart, Maria Caulfield, Sammy Wilson and Nigel Evans.
Mr Picardo was joined at the session by Attorney General Michael Llamas and Gibraltar Representative to the UK Dominique Searle and Mr Picardo’s private secretary, Peter Canessa.
The delegation then attended an hour long meeting in Whitehall with Robin Walker, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union, as part of the continuing engagement on consolidating and building Gibraltar’s links with the UK in order to best secure Gibraltar’s interests as the UK and the Rock leave the EU.
The meeting comes ahead of a Gibraltar Joint Ministerial Council being scheduled for June.
In Gibraltar, the delegation of Parliamentarians includes Conservative MP Robert Goodwill – a former Minister for Transport, Minister of State for Immigration and Minister of State in the Department of Education.
As well as Liz McInnes who currently serves as Shadow Foreign Minister in Labour’s Foreign Affairs team, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Exiting the European Union and International Trade Tom Brake, Labour MP Mike Gapes and William Humphrey MLA, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The focal points of the two-day visit are the border and air terminal as well as environmental and financial matters.
The visit also provided an opportunity to share intelligence about what is happening from a parliamentary point of view.
Asked about Spain’s Brexit veto, Mr Brake flagged the cross-party support for Gibraltar and added that MPs are making it clear to the UK government that this is not an issue that can be bartered away.
Everyone is behind the Gibraltar Government in ensuring that their rights are respected, Mr Brake added.
“One of the things that has been made clear to us this morning is that Spain, in many respects, has so much more to lose in this process,” he said.
“Gibraltar has a very strong economy and is a very strong job creator next to a region of Spain which has very significant economic problems.”
“It would be strange if the Spanish Government decided to make it more difficult for their own citizens to work and earn money in Gibraltar.”
Additionally, MPs took the opportunity to reiterate the double-lock commitment on Gibraltar’s sovereignty.
The delegation met with Government and Opposition Members of the Brexit Select Committee of the Gibraltar Parliament and paid a courtesy call on the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis.
Meetings were also arranged with the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.