Govt has ‘failed’ in Brexit talks and should ‘move aside’, Azopardi says
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi has said that if the current “bad” Brexit deal is the best the GSLP/Liberal Government can do, it should “move aside” and allow someone else to negotiate the future relationship with the EU.
Speaking as part of a New Year message that focused heavily on Brexit, Mr Azopardi said the deal agreed by the Government will allow Spain a say in Gibraltar’s affairs and permanently protects Spanish frontier workers while delivering nothing enduring on freedom of movement beyond the 21-month transitional period for the Rock.
He said that despite the Government having held hundreds of Brexit meetings, ultimately they must be judged on results.
“After more than two years of scurrying around they have come back to Gibraltar with very little to show of any enduring value or real imagination,” Mr Azopardi said in the message broadcast on GBC.
“Much time has been lost and there has been little by way of a positive attempt to lay the foundations for a far-reaching recalibration of our future relationship with the EU.”
“The Government says that this is because that would be done in the next phase of negotiations but the reality is that the bedrock for future understandings could have been laid now – as it has been in the case of Northern Ireland.”
“In Gibraltar’s case there has been a total failure of achieving something more imaginative or lasting.”
Additionally, Mr Azopardi explained that in a no-deal scenario some Spanish politicians have started to float the possibility that the Gibraltar aspect of the deal could survive.
“This is unsurprising,” he said adding: “It is because they know that the current intended arrangements favour Spain and its workers more than they favour Gibraltar, our people and our future.”
With the deadline for departure from the EU looming Mr Azopardi urged voters to reflect on whether they continue to trust the efforts of the current Government to reach a good permanent deal.
“One which does not allow Spanish encroachment into our affairs and one that gives Gibraltar a tailor made arrangement guaranteeing freedom of movement and single market access,” he said adding that this is what a GSD Government would be actively seeking.
Looking beyond Brexit Mr Azopardi said voters will see “much sudden activity” in this election year on new schools, new housing, new facilities for the island games, new parking and announcements of all types.
“The Government needs to be careful that in its shameless scramble for votes it does not commit our community to a precarious financial position which then does not allow us to properly navigate the consequences of Brexit.”
“After all just the schools and housing projects themselves will already cost upwards of probably 250 Million.
This is your money not the Government’s,” he said stressing the need experience and competence in the face of serious challenges such as Brexit or public finances.
See full message on page four of our print or e-editions.