GSD expresses ‘misgivings’ over EU-UK withdrawal agreement
The GSD has set out its initial reaction to the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement, expressing misgivings that the deal ‘very little’ to Gibraltar beyond December 2020.
The party’s leader Keith Azopardi said: “From the Protocol and draft Withdrawal Agreement itself we already have misgivings that this agreement provides very little to Gibraltar in terms of anything enduring or that meets our own objectives to secure actual positive benefits for the people of Gibraltar or our businesses beyond a very short 21 month period.”
“This is a sticking plaster at best for the period till December 2020,” he added.
This follows confirmation from Prime Minister Theresa May that her Cabinet had agreed the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement and will now be considered by the UK Parliament.
The move was welcomed by the Gibraltar Government.
In setting out the official Opposition’s reaction to the news as it concerns Gibraltar Mr Azopardi said: “It is too early to do a complete evaluation of the impact of the deal on Gibraltar.”
“The proposed deal is only valid for the 21 month period till the end of 2020.”
“While the draft Agreement contains a Protocol on Gibraltar this refers to at least five other UK-Spain Memoranda that have not yet been published on citizens’ rights, tobacco, the environment, police and customs cooperation and tax.”
“There are other documents that the Gibraltar Government has also explained it has been working on.”
“The GSD will carefully evaluate all those documents once published to assess whether this is the best deal for Gibraltar in the circumstances or whether it contains features that are not in Gibraltar’s interests.”
Mr Azopardi explained that he was briefed on the state of play of Brexit negotiations by the Chief Minister on Tuesday morning.
“I have been in touch with him yesterday and we have agreed that we will meet again if there are issues we require clarification on once all documents are published,” he said.
“Clearly Gibraltar did not wish to leave the EU so necessarily any deal will be worse than remaining in the EU.”
“To that extent it is obviously not a good deal for Gibraltar that we are having to negotiate any of this.”
“If the fast moving developments in the UK lead to a second vote on whether to accept the deal or remain in the EU we would support that choice.”
“But in the meantime we will fully and carefully assess the documents that emerge from the Gibraltar perspective.”
Mr Azopardi said he would refer these documents to the party’s Brexit Policy Group to review these in the coming days.
He added: “The jury is out as to whether this has been an opportunity lost to recalibrate our relationship with the EU on a more permanent basis or whether it represents too much of an intrusion into our affairs by Spain.”
“As I say we will need to look very carefully at the detail to make a final judgment.”