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Azopardi dismisses CM’s financial stability claim as ‘pure spin’

Archive image of GSD Leader Keith Azopardi. Photo John Bugeja

Claims by the Chief Minister that his government has restored financial stability are “pure spin”, Keith Azopardi, the Leader of the Opposition, said on Thursday.

Mr Azopardi said too that while Fabian Picardo had signalled “another Brexit election” against the backdrop of ongoing treaty talks disrupted by a snap general election in Spain, Gibraltar’s own election would be about “a whole raft of issues” uncomfortable to the government.

Mr Azopardi was reacting after Mr Picardo told the Chamber of Commerce annual dinner that the Gibraltar Government will forecast a £2.5m budget surplus for the 2023/4 financial year.

Mr Picardo said the deficit for 2022/23 would be £15m, down from initial forecasts of £50m, and that his government had “restored financial stability” years ahead of initial predictions.

The Chief Minister also defended his government’s handling of Brexit and said a treaty for the Rock’s future outside the EU was “almost there”.

Using a poker analogy, he told guests at the dinner that now was not the time to change “the lead player” at the table.

But Mr Azopardi offered a scathing assessment of the claims and, in doing so, signalled battle lines ahead of the forthcoming general election.

“The comments by the Chief Minister at the Chamber of Commerce dinner on Tuesday evening are no more than a selective presentation of the facts and spin,” Mr Azopardi said.

“Mr Picardo made his comments knowing that the budget figures cannot be revealed by members of the Opposition who have received these in confidence until the budget debate starts in July.”

“He knows we cannot answer in detail now. But when the figures are properly analysed during that debate people will see that the situation is far removed from that rosy pre-electoral picture presented by Mr Picardo.”

“As for the prospect that we are going into ‘another Brexit election’, that reality is not to his credit,” Mr Azopardi added.

“It will be a deep disappointment to many people that seven years after the Brexit referendum we are the only place without an agreement on a future relationship with the EU after the UK bagged a deal for itself more than two years ago.”

“Many people will think that having given the GSLP seven years it is now time to allow other people to do the job and secure a safe and beneficial agreement for Gibraltar.”

“That opportunity cannot come soon enough for many people.”

“The idea that he is indispensable to achieve a safe and beneficial deal for Gibraltar is laughable.”

“Even so we totally understand why he would want to make this a Brexit election.”

“That is because however dismal his record is on Brexit over the last seven years he really doesn’t want to talk about the massive domestic failings, the events surrounding the McGrail inquiry, the special interests, the crisis of truth or the abysmal records on housing, care or the delivery of efficient public services.”

“He is hoping that asking for ‘one more go’ on Brexit will be a smokescreen for all the domestic failures.”

“People will see through all that.”

“This election will be about a whole raft of issues that will be uncomfortable to the GSLP/Libs.”


Last night, the Chief Minister said the GSD’s reaction to his Chamber speech was “laughable”.

“They are knowingly trying to mislead the electorate by mixing the return of financial stability in recurrent income and expenditure with debt,” Mr Picardo said.

“They know this is mixing apples with pears but the GSD obviously realise that they cannot win the argument by comparing apples with apples or pears with pears, and they therefore go down the route of Trumpian misinformation try to mislead the electorate.”

"The same is true about Brexit.”

“Mr Azopardi lets himself, his Party and Gibraltar down by trying to deal with the sensitive issue of Brexit like a pound-shop Nigel Farage.”

“He talks about UK ‘bagging a deal’ and ignores the difficult issues that arise in our negotiation and the reality that the GSLP Liberals would not do a deal which was bad or sovereignty sensitive.”

“If he is saying he would have done a deal already he is in effect saying I am being too tough in defending our sovereignty and that he would be softer, which is unsurprising given the GSD's track record and his own view that an ‘Andorra-Style-Solution’ is not joint sovereignty, something I and the GSLP Liberals would never accept.”

“Finally, it is helpful to see Mr Azopardi continue to double down in making his party part of Team McGrail in that inquiry.”

“I have no doubt that the final result of the inquiry will find I acted properly throughout and Mr Azopardi may regret that he has been quite so forthright in backing Mr McGrail’s alleged versions of events.”

“Time will likely make all of Mr Azopardi's statements on the McGrail Inquiry hostages to fortune that will not age well, like Mr Azopardi's own political career.”

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