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Hassan Nahon challenges Feetham’s ‘backwards step’ on integration

Independent MP Marlene Hassan Nahon has challenged the GSD’s suggestion that integration with UK could offer Gibraltar a Brexit fall-back position.

In a statement, she said the proposal was “a backwards step” and a return to “flunked” ideas of the past.

She was referring to statements made by Opposition leader Daniel Feetham in an interview with this newspaper, during which he said Gibraltar should seek “early assurances” from Britain that it will offer a referendum on integration should Gibraltar not be included in any UK/EU deal for access to the single market.

While Mr Feetham acknowledged that people here were content with the Rock’s current constitutional relationship and had “no great appetite” for reform, he said devolved integration could be the only way to gain access to the single market if Spain convinced its EU partners to exclude Gibraltar from any deal with the UK.

He said that by integrating with the UK, any deal negotiated by Britain for access to the single market would automatically apply to the Rock.  

Not only that, he said, devolved integration would entitle Gibraltar to be delisted by the UN and would “drive a coach and horses” through Spanish arguments that Gibraltar is the only colony in Europe.

Yesterday Ms Hassan Nahon, a former GSD MP who resigned from the party last May, said Mr Feetham’s thinking on this issue was flawed.

“The Leader of the Opposition’s idea of a referendum on integration in the event of Spain blocking us from a deal on access to the single market is a backwards step for our inalienable right to self-determination, and our right to our land, which we and our forefathers have fought so hard to carve for so many decades,” she said.

“If we believe, as Mr Feetham himself has said on many occasions, that the 2006 Constitution provides the maximum level of self-governance, short of independence, then why would he even suggest an alternative, which pushes us in the opposite direction?”

Ms Hassan Nahon said the concept of integration had been dismissed in the 1960s.

Since then, Gibraltar had progressed hugely under successive governments led by different political parties.

“Why would we want to turn the clock back 50 years on our progression as a people?” she asked.

“Devolved integration, a creature of the limited autonomy of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is no better in terms of limiting the Constitutional autonomy which Gibraltar already enjoys.”

Ms Hassan Nahon also took issue Mr Feetham’s suggestion that integration would lead to Gibraltar’s removal from the UN list of non-self-governing territories.

Delisting was not a foregone conclusion, she said.

“The Committee of 24 may refuse to delist Gibraltar after integration, as it has refused to delist us under the 2006 Constitution,” the MP added.

She again welcomed the creation of the Brexit Select Committee in parliament, which will debate “concepts and ideas” toward securing Gibraltar’s post-Brexit future.

“An option for a return to flunked ideas of yesteryear, taking Gibraltar back in time instead of forward at such a crucial juncture in our history, should not be presented as an option,” she said.


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