GSD says Gib needs ‘calm and thoughtful’ Brexit approach
The GSD yesterday accused the Chief Minister of being obsessed with “headline grabbing”. Gibraltar insisted the GSD Opposition in a statement needed a calm and thoughtful approach to Brexit and not “a flip-flopping Chief Minister that is only interested in headlines” regardless of the consequences.
Both parties hold opposed views on the comments made last week in Brussels by Finance Centre Director, James Tipping, who gave evidence before the European Parliament’s PANA Committee stating Gibraltar was preparing for a hard Brexit.
In this latest exchange Leader of the Opposition Daniel Feetham pointed out they had “expressed concerns on a number of occasions without attempting to cause controversy about public statements by the Government that most of our financial services business is transacted with the UK and therefore access to the EU Single Market is not important.”
But this latest statement by Mr Tipping that the Government is preparing for a hard Brexit merely “increases those concerns”.
Opposition Leader Daniel Feetham rejected the suggestion that the Chief Minister, the Deputy Chief Minister or the Government had kept the Opposition in the loop of information in a manner that is relevant to this issue.
“It is for this reason, precisely that the GSD have repeated their desire to work with Government but, to do so, requires that the Government be inclusive and not to ignore our concerns about the unnecessary headline grabbing public statements that the Government and the Chief Minister are prone to make,” he stated.
Mr Feetham also insisted the Chief Minister should stop in his obsession with the internal workings of the GSD.
“It is seriously unhealthy. If he did so he would see that more and more of activists are deserting his salmon pink version of socialism and that there are more leaks in the GSLP than a sieve,” he added.
Mr Feetham said the Chief Minister’s starting position last year was that Brexit posed an existential threat to Gibraltar but that within weeks of the referendum he was telling the world that Gibraltar could stay in the EU with Scotland, while England and Wales exited.
“To that end and, again, to great publicity he met with Nicola Sturgeon to push for a reverse Greenland model,” he added.
Mr Feetham said Mr Picardo had never consulted the Opposition beforehand and further accused him of not pausing to think about the huge ramifications for the integrity of the UKof such proposals.
“For those reasons (and others) the proposal had no chance of success but they were potentially very damaging because they could have alienated crucial friends at Westminster.Not satisfied, he then gave evidence before the House of Lords and flip-flopped to something else - an independent “European City State”,” added the statement
The GSD further pointed out that the Chief Minister was entitled to explore a number of different avenues but suggestedhe should have done so “quietly and cautiously”.
Instead, it suggested that, “when one examines his public statements one is left with the clear impression that he flip-flops in accordance with what he believes is likely to generate the next headline.”
The Leader of the Opposition insisted this “is not in the best interests of this community, whatever the Chief Minister or those whose interests depend on his Government may say”.
The GSD, added Mr Feetham adamantly believed, the statements made by the Finance Director Jimmy Tipping in Brussels on Government instructions were ill advised.
“At a time when Gibraltar is arguing that a future UK Government should not sign any deal it reaches with the EU if Spain exercises its clause 24 veto, we need to be extremely careful with self-satisfied public statements,” he added.
“Doing so gives a future UK Government an easy way out should it wish to sign an agreement with the EU that excludes Gibraltar. If Spain does exercise its veto, the UK Government could turn round and say that access to the Single Market is important to the City of London but not, according to the Chief Minister, important to Gibraltar because 94% of our business is done with the UK and Gibraltar has already fully prepared for a hard Brexit. These public statements are therefore unnecessary and potentially damaging to us,” he further added.