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Govt slams Azopardi’s ‘absurd’ position on Brexit

The Rock of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, is seen from the Spanish side of the border near La Linea de la Concepcion, southern Spain, November 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

The Gibraltar Government has dismissed as “presumptuous and absurd” the claim by GSD Leader Keith Azopardi that he could negotiated a better Brexit deal.

In a New Year message last week, Mr Azopardi said the government had negotiated a “bad” deal for Gibraltar and should “move aside” to let someone else take over.

The GSD claims the Withdrawal Agreement and Gibraltar protocol hands Spain a say in Gibraltar’s affairs and that the government had wasted an opportunity to negotiate a tailor made arrangement guaranteeing freedom of movement and single market access.

“That is what the GSD, in Government, would be actively seeking,” Mr Azopardi said in the message.

But No.6 Convent Place lashed back and dismissed the GSD Leader’s message as “absurd”.

“It is presumptuous in the extreme for the Leader of the GSD to claim that he would have handled the negotiations to leave the European Union better than the Government. Indeed, the claim is so absurd that nobody will believe it,” the government said.

“Mr Azopardi has, unsurprisingly, not deigned to explain on what basis he can make such an outlandish statement.”

The government said Opposition MPs on the Brexit Select Committee of the Gibraltar Parliament had received detailed information every step of the negotiations and had been given the opportunity to comment and put forward their views.

It said GSD MP Daniel Feetham in particular had adopted “a very constructive approach” and was on the record as having said that the government had left no stone un-turned in this process.

Additionally, when Mr Azopardi was shown the text of the agreements, he wanted to change only three words and these were in the Concordat, No.6 Convent Place said.

“It is deeply regrettable that the Leader of the GSD, unlike some of his colleagues, has not adopted a more statesmanlike approach to these negotiations,” the government statement added.

“His constant nit-picking serves no other function that to make himself relevant.”

“It is perfectly legitimate to argue, as Mr Feetham has done, that a new referendum is the best way forward.”

“What is nothing short of comical is Mr Azopardi’s suggestion that he would somehow have negotiated a better deal or that he is the person best qualified to lead the negotiations on the future relationship.”

“The people of Gibraltar know full well that this could not be further from the truth.”

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