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Gibraltar 'won't be a victim of Brexit', Picardo says

Gibraltar will “energetically and enthusiastically” work to deliver a successful Brexit, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Sunday even as he warned that the Rock would not be “a victim” of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
Speaking on Sky News’ Sunday morning politics show Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Picardo said Gibraltar had made its position clear as to what it needed from the Brexit negotiations and had received assurances from the UK Government that its interests would be looked after.
“We were all in favour of remaining in the EU, 96% of us voted to remain, but it’s our obligation to energetically and enthusiastically now pursue the result of the referendum and deliver a successful Brexit,” he said.
“We’re not going to get in the way of Brexit, but we’re not going to be the victims of Brexit, that’s for sure.”

Mr Picardo was speaking days after Spain’s King Felipe used an address to the UK Parliament during a state visit to urge renewed dialogue between the UK and Spain to reach “new arrangements” on Gibraltar.
Quizzed on this by Sky presenter Sophy Ridge, the Chief Minister said that while Brexit would mean new arrangements to ensure continued border fluidity, there would be no change in Gibraltar’s sovereignty.
“There’s not going to be any new arrangements in relation to the sovereignty of Gibraltar,” he said.
“That is going to remain 100% British.”
“Because if we have to respect the result of the Brexit referendum, we must also respect the result of the referenda in Gibraltar, in 1967, 50 years ago, when we chose to remain entirely British, and 15 years ago, the second referendum, which was on joint sovereignty, where the people of Gibraltar said ‘thank you but no thank you’, 99% of us want to continue staying entirely British.”

Mr Picardo said he had received “cast iron” assurances from the UK’s Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis, that any future trade deals between the UK and the EU would include Gibraltar if it was relevant to the Rock.
He added that he had no reason to doubt those assurances.
“This is a fluid moment, a moment of aspiration when we try and do the best possible deal for the whole of the United Kingdom including Gibraltar,” he said.
“Success will mean Gibraltar is included in those trade arrangements where they are relevant.”
“If we are not included because Spain and therefore the EU have managed to exclude us, that will mean failure on the part of the British negotiating team.”
“And I bet on success, not on failure.”

The Chief Minister was pressed on this point by Ms Ridge, who raised the issue of the veto that the EU has given to Spain in clause 24 of its Brexit negotiating guidelines.
Under that clause, Spain would first have to agree before any future deals can be applied to Gibraltar.
But Mr Picardo said that the EU’s bid to grant Spain an additional veto raised legal questions.
“That’s probably contrary to EU law, because those agreements are likely to deal with things that have gone outside of the control of national parliaments,” he said.
“Although the national parliaments will have vetoes, it will be a veto as to the acceptance of those deals but not on the application of those deals, in particular in the area of services.”
He added: “I think it’s very bloody-minded indeed to say that Spain, which has a specific territorial claim to Gibraltar, should have anything other than the rights that the [EU] treaties give her.”
“That the Commission and the [EU] Council should pretend to create a new right is something that the people of Gibraltar won’t accept, and the British Government is on record saying that they won’t do a trade deal that excludes Gibraltar if it’s relevant to Gibraltar.”

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