Gibraltar keeps ‘strong voice’ in Westminster - Picardo
The result of the UK general is “very positive” for Gibraltar, which enjoys strong support across the political spectrum in the House of Commons at a time when parliament will take a bigger role in Brexit talks, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said yesterday.
Long-time Gibraltar supporters from all the main UK parties kept their seats after Thursday’s vote, ensuring Gibraltar continues to have a strong lobby in Westminster.
“I think this result puts parliament in the driving seat of the Brexit negotiations and Gibraltar is very well represented in that parliament,” Mr Picardo said.
“Gibraltar’s position is well-reflected across the political divide.”
“It’s a good result for Gibraltar as we go into Brexit in the sense that our views will matter in a parliament which will have a much greater influence over the Brexit negotiations than it might have if you had a very strong lead in terms of seats for one party or the other.”
Among the MPs to have retained their seats are key members of the Gibraltar all-party parliamentary group in the House of Commons, including Tory MP Bob Neill, Labour MP Lyndsay Hoyle, the Scottish National Party’s Angus McNeil and the Democratic Unionist Party’s Ian Paisley.
“The Gibraltar position is well reflected across the political divide and it was included in the manifestoes of the three main political parties,” Mr Picardo said.
“We have strong links with the SNP and with the DUP.”
“It’s quite something when you have the five biggest political groupings in the United Kingdom being close enough to the people of Gibraltar and to their government that we are not concerned that the outcome of the election means that our lobby in parliament is in any way diminished.”
The Chief Minister was cautious, however, on commenting on the wider implications of the result of the UK general election, insisting he would maintain a non-partisan position following a result that has plunged the UK into political turmoil.
Mr Picardo also appeared yesterday morning on Canal Sur’s morning news programme, where he was quizzed about Brexit and relations with Spain.
Mr Picardo said Gibraltar wanted “fluid and positive” relations with Spain.
“That is what people want from us,” he said.
“That’s what we have to achieve, while respecting each others’ red lines.”
The GSD said the result of the UK election was historic but that it was too soon to assess how it might impact on Gibraltar.
“People will now understand the saying that ‘a week is a long time in politics’,” said deputy leader Roy Clinton.
“The political upheaval we have just witnessed in the UK is historic.”
“However it is too soon to work out the implications for Gibraltar as regards Brexit if any until Westminster settles down.”
“Needless to say the Opposition will be keeping a close eye on developments.”
Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon said the election result would likely push the Brexit negotiations into further uncertainty than before.
“While instability is not desirable, a reduced minority government as opposed to a Conservative majority might require a greater degree of compromise,” she said.
“Given that May appeared to be campaigning in hard/no deal Brexit, the prospect of a softer Brexit should give us a measure of hope that the government listens to all parties concerned, including Gibraltar.”
Ms Hassan Nahon also pointed at a shift in the political landscape, highlighting the role of the youth vote in contributing to yesterday’s result.
“The increased turnout among young voters reminds us that an engaged and passionate youth can change the frame and shape of the country,” she said.
“We have seen around Europe and North America that the politics of hope and unity has mobilised swathes of voters to fight against the status quo.”
“Together people can make real change. This is a lesson that democracies around the world now will have to learn.”