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Theresa May sends clear message of support at Gibraltar reception

Theresa May sends clear message of support at Gibraltar reception

Prime Minister Theresa May took a personal interest in Gibraltar on Sunday evening, attending the Gibraltar Government’s reception at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham and delivering a clear, unequivocal message: “We back Gibraltar.”

At a time when Mrs May is under pressure on all fronts over Brexit, her presence at the reception left no doubt as to the UK Government’s support for the Rock and its people.

Addressing a room packed with MPs, peers and Conservative party officials, the Prime Minister insisted: “We have Gibraltar’s interests at heart.”

“We joined the EU together and we will be leaving the EU together,” she said.

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“And we will make sure that as we negotiate our deal for our future relationship, it is a deal that covers Gibraltar and takes into account the interests that Gibraltar has.”

“We back Gibraltar,” she added.

“We back Gibraltar alongside the United Kingdom.”

“And as we go forward together, as Brexit becomes that reality where we leave the EU, as we forge global Britain, Gibraltar will be part of that global Britain, alongside us, ensuring that you too in Gibraltar have a brighter future.”

Theresa May and Fabian Picardo

Mrs May said the well-attended reception showed the “significant support” for Gibraltar in the Conservative party.

She also thanked Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and his team for supporting the UK’s work on withdrawal from the EU.

‘SPEARHEAD’

Addressing the reception just before the Prime Minister, Mr Picardo described Mrs May as the “spearhead” of UK parliamentary support for the Rock and its people, acknowledging her “steady, strong and heartfelt” backing for Gibraltar in the Brexit process.

Her defence of Gibraltar and the Gibraltarians, he added, had been “unfailing, uncompromising, unequivocal”.

“We knew that Theresa May had our back, we knew that we had our support, and therefore we could safely enter into a process of discussions and negotiations with our European partners, including Spain, on how we would manage this challenging and exciting time for Gibraltar and the United Kingdom,” Mr Picardo said.

Mr Picardo, in a clear nod of support to an embattled Prime Minister who is under intense pressure from the Brexit hawks in her party, said Mrs May’s withdrawal proposals should be respected.

And he was unequivocal in his back for the Prime Minister and her stance on Brexit.

“This is the final countdown, and we are leaving together,” he said.

“Because the will of the British people is clear.”

Turning to football analogies, Mr Picardo described Mrs May as “our star striker” and presented her with a Gibraltar football shirt emblazoned with “May 10” on the back.

“Gibraltar wants Theresa May to succeed, Gibraltar is rooting for Theresa May to succeed,” he said.

“The British family of nations needs Theresa May to succeed.”

“Brexit’s coming home, and this Prime Minister will be the one to deliver it.”

The Chief Minister also praised the work of Gibraltar’s supporters in the UK Parliament, many of whom were present at the reception.

The All Party Parliament Group on Gibraltar and the Conservative Friends of Gibraltar led by Conservative MP Bob Neil were “true friends”, Mr Picardo said.

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