Chief Minister Fabian Picardo “is not the right person” to negotiate Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU in the unlikely event that the House of Commons backs Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal, the GSD said.
In the latest salvo in a festering row over the Withdrawal Agreement, the GSD dismissed accusations that it had put party interests over those of Gibraltar by criticising the government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations.
It also rejected claims of internal splits within the GSD on the issue of Brexit, insisting the government’s statements on this amounted to “one long political rant” and adding: “Mr Picardo is visibly getting nervous that the GSD criticism about his bad deal is too close to the bone.”
“If there ever was a political party that put its interests above country that was the GSLP who spent eight years negotiating a new constitution for Gibraltar and then refused to advocate a ‘Yes’ vote at the 2006 referendum which was convened to endorse what it had helped negotiate,” the GSD said.
“Instead, the GSLP tried to convert that referendum into a vote of no confidence in Peter Caruana.”
“If there ever was a political party that was fractured it is Mr Picardo’s new GSLP whose spendthrift and reckless attitude to public finance is totally out of kilter with the repeated message of economic unsustainability of Sir Joe Bossano.”
The GSD said Mrs May had returned from Brussels last week “as good as empty handed” and said there was little prospect of her deal surviving a vote in parliament.
It added that Mr Picardo was “so wedded to Theresa May’s skirts” that he was now promoting the “rapidly indefensible”.
The party said Mr Picardo’s attacks on the GSD could not mask his “inability” to negotiate a good deal for Gibraltar.
The GSD’s position is that Mr Picardo should have secured enduring benefits for Gibraltar during the negotiations for the withdrawal phase, and that the divorce deal hands Spain a say in Gibraltar’s internal affairs.
The Gibraltar Government has robustly rejected any suggestion that the Withdrawal Agreement gives Spain a say in Gibraltar’s affairs.
It adds that the negotiation until now has been about leaving the EU, not about the future relationship, and that the GSD’s analysis of the Brexit process is “amateurish”.
The GSD has backed the campaign for a People’s Vote but yesterday acknowledged that Mrs May,’s deal could yet make it through the Commons.
“In the unlikely event that it does and we move into a second phase of negotiating a permanent future relationship with the EU it is clear that Mr Picardo is not the right person to negotiate that future relationship,” the GSD said.
“If he thinks this bad deal in which Spain gets a say over our affairs is good for Gibraltar imagine what he would bring back as our permanent future relationship with the EU.”
“When Mrs May is forced to openly set out her case against a People’s Vote it is because there is growing momentum in the UK Parliament for it.”
“Such a vote would allow us the chance to express a view to remain.”
“That is our best chance for the future.”
“It is not Mr Picardo’s bad deal and soft, directionless, political shape-shifting style for the future relationship negotiations.”
“His actions and reactions show he is unreliable. Maybe Sir Joe Bossano will come to his rescue.”