GSD launches ‘EU and House of Commons’ petitions
The GSD yesterday called on the people of Gibraltar to ‘say no to clause 22’ by backing petitions to the UK and EU Parliaments.
The GSD initiative comes in response to draft EU guidelines, published last week by EU Council President Donald Tusk, which appeared to offer Spain a veto on the Rock’s future.
The Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, along with a near-full complement of GSD MPs set out their response to ‘clause 22’ at a press conference at party headquarters yesterday.
Mr Feetham said: “In our view that is a clear, blatant attempt to interfere with the economic security, stability and prosperity of Gibraltar in the future unless Spain obtains some concession on the question of sovereignty.”
“And it really is a very blatant attempt at future blackmail and it has got to be resisted by the people of Gibraltar, it has got to be resisted by the Government of Gibraltar and it is certainly going to be resisted by the Opposition of Gibraltar,” he added.
Mr Feetham underscored that while the initiative is the brainchild of the GSD, he hoped that the whole community would embrace it and leave party politics to one side in the best interests of Gibraltar.
Despite the assurances of the UK Government over the weekend, the GSD said it wants to ensure that the wishes of the people of Gibraltar continue to be heard in both the UK and EU Parliaments and that no stone is left unturned in the expression of those wishes.
The GSD will therefore collect signatures for two petitions. One is destined for the House of Commons which can be signed by Gibraltar residents and another for the EU Parliament which can be signed by any EU-resident.
The GSD will go door-to-door, host stalls along Main Street and provide copies of the petition at GSD headquarters in College Lane for signing.
The UK petition will be read and tabled in Parliament and although it will not trigger a debate it will be represented in the Commons by a UK MP – the GSD flagged the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gibraltar as a possibility in this respect.
Mr Feetham added that he will take up an open invitation from the Chairman of the Group, Jack Lopresti, to address its members.
“This is an important way in which the people of Gibraltar, in parallel with the Government, can express their concerns directly to the House of Commons and the EU Parliament on the EU draft negotiating position before they are ratified by the EU on April 29, 2017,” the GSD said in a press briefing.
The GSD will also be inviting non-governmental organisations and the Government to support both petitions in order to present a united front in defending Gibraltar’s interests.
Mr Feetham added: “It is important, in our view, that we recognise that of course Gibraltar is going to be exiting the EU with the United Kingdom and we from the very beginning have said that our strategy has got to be a very simple strategy and we have concentrated on the four areas of access.”
“But we’ve also said that we’ve got to make it as difficult as possible for the UK Government to effectively renege on the commitments it has made to the people of Gibraltar.”
He expressly stated that he was not referring to sovereignty commitments because those are “inviolable” and are “just simply not going to be reneged upon”.
“We are talking about commitments to ensure that the economic interests of Gibraltar are protected and the exclusion of Gibraltar from an agreement between the UK and the EU is designed to attack that future economic prosperity and has got to be resisted at all cost.”
GSD Deputy Leader, Roy Clinton, said: “I think there is a feeling in Gibraltar that obviously we all want to express our concern and frustration in the most effective way but also in a constructive way and certainly we don’t want to ever look back in history and find that we didn’t do everything we could have done.”
Asked how many signatures they would like to get Mr Clinton replied: “How many people do we have in Gibraltar?”
“Ideally every man, woman and child,” he added.