Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said today that it would be “very bad indeed for Gibraltar” if the UK Parliament failed to approve the draft divorce deal agreed by Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Union.
Speaking outside the Cabinet Office in Whitehall after meeting UK ministers to discuss matters relating to Brexit and Gibraltar, Mr Picardo said the draft withdrawal agreement was better than leaving the bloc without a deal in place.
“I think this is potentially an agreement that certainly works for the United Kingdom and therefore certainly works for Gibraltar,” Mr Picardo said.
“It is important that an agreement is reached because for Gibraltar the alternative no deal is not as good as what is potentially on the table.”
Pressed on what would happen if the UK Parliament voted down the agreement, the Chief Minister added: “Well, there would be no deal and that would be very bad indeed for Gibraltar.”
“Anyone who genuinely cares for Gibraltar will want to see a deal as important as this is for Gibraltar to prosper.”
Mr Picardo was speaking as Mrs May prepares to try and convince senior ministers to accept a draft European Union divorce deal that opponents say threatens both her government and the unity of the United Kingdom.
Mrs May has to try to get the deal approved by parliament before exiting the bloc on March 29, 2019.
Brexit campaigners in Mrs May’s Conservative Party accused her of surrendering to the EU and said they would vote down the deal.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Mrs May’s minority government, questioned whether she would be able to get parliamentary approval.
The British cabinet is set to meet at 2pm in the UK.
UK media reported that five of Mrs May’s senior ministers – Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Michael Gove and Geoffrey Cox – will back the deal.
Outside Downing Street, anti-Brexit protestors made their feelings known.
A few metres away, passionate anti-Brexit protest outside Downing Street. pic.twitter.com/X6sFCi59QH
— Gibraltar Chronicle (@GibChronicle) November 14, 2018
Mr Picardo, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia and senior officials, met today with Europe Minister Sir Alan Duncan, Brexit Minister Robin Walker, the economic secretary at the Treasury, John Glen,to discuss issues that affect Gibraltar directly.
This was separate to the drama unfolding in Downing Street and was a continuation of the work carried out under the Joint Ministerial Council on Gibraltar and Brexit.
They discussed matter relating to the online gaming industry, the financial services industry in Gibraltar and continued access to the United Kingdom market after December 2020.
“And we are making great progress in respect of all those,” Mr Picardo said.
“The important thing today for me has been to just restate how fantastic the working relationship with the Government of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom Government has been and how fully involved we have been in all of this process in so far as it relates to Gibraltar.”