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Opinion & Analysis

From Article 50 to Clause 22

by Aaron Santos

The inclusion of Gibraltar in the draft EU guidelines for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union may have come as a surprise to some. What is not surprising however, is that Spain would try to use Brexit as tool to achieve their unrealistic dream of Gibraltar’s sovereignty. The EU’s draft negotiating guidelines clause on Gibraltar reads as follows: “After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.” This clause effectively gives Spain a veto on any Brexit deal applying to Gibraltar, something which in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous and should not be allowed.
If Spain were to veto any Brexit deal from applying to Gibraltar, we would no doubt suffer economically. By the same token, the present situation which we are currently facing reminds me of the many challenges that Gibraltar has faced in the past. From the closure of the frontier to the joint sovereignty negotiations, Gibraltar has always overcome challenges and prospered even more at the end of it. Arguably, it is the unity of the Gibraltarian people that has enabled us to overcome every challenge that has come our way. Therefore, I believe that this is just one more challenge that Gibraltar will need to face and if Gibraltar stands united on this issue we will overcome it.
Some reassurance has certainly been provided by the UK Government on this matter. It is welcoming to hear that the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson phoned the Chief Minister to “reiterate that the UK remains implacable and rock-like” on their commitment for Gibraltar. Although welcoming, actions speak louder than words and I’m sure that I speak for all Gibraltarians by hoping that the UK Government will stand up to bullies and not allow Gibraltar to be used as a bargaining chip in the negotiations.
To end with, despite Gibraltar voting to Remain by 96%, the United Kingdom, and with it Gibraltar, will be leaving the European Union. It is by no means what we wished for but it is time to unite as a country and stand up to bullies. In this time of uncertainty, one thing is certain, and that is that Gibraltar will always be British!

Gibraltarian Aaron Santos is studying Politics and International Relations at Nottingham Trent University

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