Brexit also on the agenda as MPs talk public finance in London
A delegation of Gibraltar MPs has lobbied members of the House of Commons and House of Lords on the likely implications of Brexit on Gibraltar, highlighting the importance of the British Parliament’s support and defence of Gibraltar’s interests in the negotiations.
The delegation, which is led by Government Minister Sir Joe Bossano, is visiting the UK Parliament as part of a two-day programme organized by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (UK) to explore public financial management issues.
The delegation also includes GSD MPs Roy Clinton and Edwin Reyes as well as Independent MPs Marlene Hassan Nahon and Lawrence Llamas.
Although the visit has been designed primarily to provide MPs with an insight into the workings of the Public Accounts Committee, it has also afforded the delegation opportunities to discuss Brexit with Members of the House of Commons and peers.
The group met with Labour MP Hilary Benn, Chair of the Committee on Exiting the European Union, on Tuesday to discuss Brexit.
According to Mrs Hassan Nahon, this presented a “unique opportunity” for MPs to put their views across on the issues facing Gibraltar at the present time, while having frank discussions relating to Gibraltarians worries and uncertainties, and pressing for more assurances.
“It was a chance to lobby in an organic and friendly manner, as was when we met with Baroness Hayter, the shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords and shadow Minister to the Department for Exiting the EU,” she explained.
Mr Llamas told the Chronicle that he had taken the opportunity of lobbying the MPs and Peers and deliver a message from Gibraltar in relation to Brexit.
He highlighted the sorts of issues that could present challenges for Gibraltar and underscored the importance of the British Parliament’s support and defence of Gibraltar’s interests in the negotiations.
“Specific issues we have raised have been the importance of Gibraltar enjoying all the benefits of any transitional arrangements, as far as they can be reasonably extended to as well as the importance of any benefits negotiated by the British Government in the negotiations on the residual relationship between the UK and the EU being extended to Gibraltar too,” Mr Llamas explained.
“The time spent here so far has also been valuable from the perspective of having been able to express, in no uncertain terms, quite how little the Spanish position has shifted despite the far more measured approach in evidence these days by the Spanish Foreign Secretary, Alfonso Dastis,” he added.
Mr Clinton underscored the importance of the cross-party element to the lobbying efforts.
He added that there had been “genuine interest” from the UK MPs and peers as to the strength of feeling in Gibraltar in respect of Brexit and whether Britain could be doing any more for the Rock.
Although the focus of the visit is public accounts and expenditure, Mr Clinton said meetings with MPs and peers on Brexit related matters represents “the icing on the cake”.