History will not judge kindly the GSD’s “fractured, inconsistent and entirely cynical” approach to Brexit, the Gibraltar Government said, as it defended its handling of the withdrawal negotiations and insisted it had protected Gibraltar against any eventuality in the coming months.
No.6 Convent Place was reacting to the GSD’s claims that it had failed to secure enduring benefits for the Rock and had agreed a deal that gave Spain a say in Gibraltar’s affairs.
The Government dismissed the GSD criticism and said it had remained “fully up to speed” with every development over the last two years, moving to take advantage for Gibraltar where the opportunity had arisen.
It said the measure of the success of its negotiation was Gibraltar’s inclusion in the Withdrawal Agreement despite the veto handed to Spain by the EU Commission at the start of the process.
Gibraltar, it added, had not paid any sovereignty, jurisdiction or control price for that inclusion.
No.6 said Gibraltar’s position had been secured whether there was a Withdrawal Agreement, a ‘no deal’ Brexit, a new referendum or – “our preferred option” – a reversal of the Article 50 Notice.
“In trying to criticise the Government’s consistent and well thought-out position on these negotiations, all that the ‘new’ GSD achieves is to confirm that they will always put party before country and that they are completely out of their depth on this issue,” No.6 Convent Place said.
“Rarely, if ever, has an Opposition party in Gibraltar been so badly led or so intellectually bankrupt on an issue of such vital importance to Gibraltar.”
Responding to the GSD’s claim that the Gibraltar Government had failed to secure longterm benefits for Gibraltar in the Brexit negotiations, No.6 said the discussions to date had been about withdrawal, not the future relationship.
The government questioned whether anyone in the GSD had read Article 50 and understood how the process worked.
It also rubbished the GSD’s comparison of the Gibraltar protocol with the much lengthier protocol on Northern Ireland, and highlighted different views on Brexit within the GSD.
“The various instalments of nonsense and diatribe we have been subjected to by Mr Azopardi in the last couple of weeks in this context are an obvious and simple consequence of the failure of the GSD to do any real work whatsoever in this regard,” Mr Picardo said.
“They are scrambling to regurgitate arguments which are flawed in law in the hope of hiding the fact that they simply do not have a clue what they’re talking about.”
“They have stooped to the level of counting the number of pages in the protocols. Is this really what they offer our community in exchange for their public salaries?”
“Has Mr Azopardi even realised that a very substantial part of the Irish Protocol (over half of it) is a simple list of EU measures?”
“Has he realised that the backstop is temporary and not permanent and that nobody wants it?”
“Gibraltar certainly deserves better than the GSD.”
“It is of course very easy for Mr Azopardi, from the comfort of his own sofa, outside Parliament and with no electoral mandate, to grandstand from the stalls as he watches on in glorious ignorance of some of the uncomfortable fundamental truths that arise in the Brexit context.”
“It is nonetheless shocking that leader of the GSD should repeatedly make such fundamental errors of analysis.”
“Can’t the leader of the Opposition come to his rescue?”
“What is also unfortunately becoming apparent is that the GSD has, in its ranks, a number of fan boys of Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg who fail to see the benefits of avoiding a hard Brexit.”
“Mr Azopardi seems to be inclining towards them and not toward some of the more sensible voices in his party.”