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Defiant Picardo on National Day: "British means British"

If Brexit means Brexit, then British means British. That was the National Day message from the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

It was a firm and defiant message aimed at Spain and its acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, that countered the Spanish politician’s ‘fantasy’ of pushing for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar.

“If anyone thinks that we are going to sell our homeland for access to Europe, they don't know the Gibraltarians,” Mr Picardo said to rapturous applause from the Casemates audience.

“Look up at our beautiful Rock,” he told the crowd. “That is our backbone. I don't see a ‘For Sale’ sign anywhere on it.”

Those who keep talking about taking our sovereignty "just don't get it", Mr Picardo said.

“We have told them that hell will freeze over before Gibraltar becomes Spanish. And they don't get it.”

“We have told them that they need to wake up and smell the coffee. Gibraltar will never be Spanish. And they don't get it.”

“We have told them that no means no. And still they don't get it,” Mr Picardo said.

"Well let me put it in terms that even they might understand," he said.

“If Brexit means Brexit, then British means British. No means no. Never means never. Gibraltar is British forever.”

Mr Picardo read a message from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reaffirming Britain's double-lock sovereignty commitment to Gibraltar.

"On this Gibraltar National Day, I want to emphasise my resolute support for Gibraltar and its people," Mr Johnson's message said.


 

Casemates was again full of red and white for the National Day celebrations as thousands crammed into the square and adjacent streets for the traditional SDGG political rally.

The crowd was perhaps less than in other years - the beaches, conversely, were packed - but there were enough people to fill the square in a sea of red and white.

There were 21 UK MPs at the rally this year, representing the spectrum of UK politics.

One by one, a representative from each major UK political party took to the stage to address the crowd and reaffirm the support that Gibraltar enjoys in the Commons in defence of its right to self-determination.

But the reaction to some of the guest MPs was at times lukewarm.

Jack Lopresti, the Brexiteer Tory MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar in the House of Commons, was booed when he addressed the crowd and defended the UK's decision to leave the EU.

BALLOONS

The annual balloon release was an integral part of Gibraltar’s National Day celebrations and, for many, it represented one of the highlights of the day.

It was undoubtedly a glorious sight watching the red and white globes drift up and up against the blue summer sky.

However, the environmental impact could no longer be ignored and the SDGG took the difficult decision this year to find a green alternative.

To replace the balloons, the SDGG organised a helicopter drop that was meant to shower Casemates in petals.

Unfortunately, the helicopter pilot appeared to miss his mark. Coupled to the easterly wind, it meant the petals ended up in Market Place, missing the square altogether.

Even so, the message that Gibraltar had ended its environmentally unfriendly balloon release did not go unnoticed worldwide.

Lewis Pugh, the open water swimmer and UN oceans patron who campaigned for an end to Gibraltar's balloon release, also tweeted.

He exchanged also tweets with Environment Minister Dr John Cortes: