Change UK’s Rachel Johnson reaches out to Gib voters
Change UK is appealing to Gibraltarian voters to back its six candidates in the upcoming European Parliament elections as the pro-Remain party goes to the polls for the first time.
With 96% of voters in Gibraltar choosing to remain in the European Union in the EU Referendum in June 2016, the party hopes “that will stay the same even though things have changed”.
Change UK are a new pro-remain party set up by The Independent Group who back another referendum.
Rachel Johnson leads the list of MEP candidates for Change UK for the South West and Gibraltar region and hopes Gibraltarians will “vote to stay in the EU”.
She praised the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo for his “strong message” in his slogan “revoke, referendum, remain”.
Change UK candidates have been travelling the South West region to campaign for votes and are hoping squeeze in a visit to Gibraltar to meet potential voters.
The other candidates that will represent the Change UK party are Jim Godfrey, Ollie Middleton, Matthew Hooberman, Liz Sewell and Crispin Hunt.
“I think that we now see that everybody is stronger in the EU,” Ms Johnson told the Chronicle.
“The United Kingdom will be disunited if we leave and it will have an effect on Gibraltar, Scotland and Ireland.”
“It will be a risk to the union.”
At the last EU elections in 2014, the Liberal Democrats pulled the majority of the votes from Gibraltar with 4,822 votes and a 32.84% turnout.
Ms Johnson said the Liberal Democrats have had three years to “turn the ship around” which they have so far failed to do.
In turn, she said her party “puts forward non-affiliated best policies across the board”.
Ms Johnson recognises voters in Gibraltar may be divided after the European Union granted Spain the “controversial” Clause 24 veto in Brexit negotiations with Gibraltar.
But, Gibraltar was simply being used as a “pawn in that political game”, she said, adding: “There will always be some sort of dispute and grey area to keep Spain on the [EU’s] side.”
However, she accepts that Gibraltarians may go on to vote for Brexiteer MEP’s who continue to describe the EU as a “tyrannical” entity.
Ms Johnson, whose brother is the Tory Brexiteer and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, said her party has an “uphill battle” against Brexit supporters have two main slogans at the moment of sovereignty and democracy.
“People are determined to try their best to escape the EU and are prepared to make a huge sacrifice to the UK,” Ms Johnson added.
“It seems like they are on a single-minded suicidal mission to leave the EU in a bid to try to achieve sovereignty.”
Ms Johnson said that her party will campaign for remain and then to reform the UK’s position within the EU because there is “a lot of unhappiness with the EU”, primarily among fishermen and farmers.
“Brexit is an Alice in Wonderland scenario,” she added.
“It will take another 10 years to replicate the laws into UK law simply to be able to say we have left the EU.”