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Hassan Nahon urges CM to ‘tone down nationalistic rhetoric’

Johnny Bugeja

Together Gibraltar Leader Marlene Hassan Nahon has called on the Chief Minister to tone down his “Nationalistic rhetoric” as he pursues legal action against VOX.

Speaking as part of a New Year’s address, Ms Hassan Nahon said that whilst the VOX statements on Gibraltar are “entirely reprehensible” and deserve a firm response in the courts, “these affairs must be conducted in a measured and judicious manner”.

“It is time to tone down the Nationalistic rhetoric, which rouses the emotions of the electorate in a way that benefits only Mr. Picardo and his party,” she said.

She added that the Chief Minister’s response to the VOX comments - including “appearing on sensationalist Spanish TV programmes and issuing defiant public statements” - does not represent “intelligent politics”.

“VOX represents the polar opposite of Together Gibraltar in political terms, and I oppose their ideas and political positions with a passion,” she said.

“[But] these are not times for sabre rattling and testosterone, firstly, because we are an open and tolerant nation, secure in our national identity and confident in our institutions, and most importantly because it could potentially be bad for Gibraltar.”

Ms Hassan Nahon said she therefore could not endorse the elements of “belligerence and Churchillian grandstanding” that she said transpire from Mr Picardo’s own New Year’s speech.

Despite this, Ms Hassan Nahon said the Government can count on herself and her party to provide assistance and support every step of the way on all issues pivotal to the national interest.

Highlighting Brexit in particular she said: “I stand with our Chief Minister in support of his message of responsibility and courage, and have total faith in our nation’s resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity.”

Brexit, she said is a “tough blow” for all of those who believe in the European project, and believe that Gibraltar’s interests are best served by being part of the Union.

“But it is time to accept this inevitability and work together to minimise its aftermath,” she said.

Elsewhere Ms Hassan Nahon flagged how in 2020 the Government will hold a referendum on legalising abortion in certain circumstances.

“We said this repeatedly throughout the campaign and it is worth saying again: Basic human rights should not be put up to referendum. It sets a dangerous precedent, and exposes us to the humiliation, in the case of a negative outcome, of the UK supreme court having to intervene to override our archaic legislation,” she said.

“In any case, we have to put an end to the status quo as soon as possible. Having to terminate pregnancies in Spain exposes our women to heightened social stigmas and big financial burdens.”

“It is unfair, discriminatory, it is bad social policy and it violates our human rights. Furthermore, it deprives women of counselling and support networks which could potentially prevent many abortions taking place.”

For these reasons, she said, Together Gibraltar will be campaigning, with other pro-choice organisations, for the new law to be implemented in March, “despite our reservations”.

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo last night accused Together Gibraltar Leader Marlene Hassan Nahon of “dangerously contradicting herself” as he accused her of pursuing a “meaningless Punch and Judy” style of politics.

Mr Picardo was reacting to Ms Hassan Nahon’s New Year message in which she criticised the Chief Minister’s stance on the VOX comments about Gibraltar.

He said: "Ms Hassan Nahon’s New Year message is tragic evidence that she has once again repeatedly and dangerously contradicted herself whilst unfortunately abandoning her self-ascribed ‘constructive’ attitude towards politics whilst instead pursuing the meaningless ‘Punch and Judy’ style she so criticises.”

"It is also somewhat disappointing to see Ms Hassan Nahon now not support us in our unwavering actions against those who have insulted and potentially defamed our country and pride.”

“Having first said in Parliament she fully supported our action against Vox 100%, she now seems not so firm in her support.”

Mr Picardo said his Government will never sit by as “toxic rhetoric is flung in our direction by fascists and as an opposition member, neither should she”.

"But what is becoming clear is that Ms Hassan Nahon is worryingly inconsistent in her approach to everything,” he added.

“One day she calls for constructive politics and the next she is hurling insults.”

“One day she is calling for a referendum on abortion, the next she is against a referendum on abortion.”

“One day she is telling me that we should not be in discussions with parties that represent different principles to hers, and the next she is saying we should be working with all parties even those we disagree with.”

"And then - even more worryingly - one day she is 100% behind us in our actions against Vox and the next she is wavering and telling us we should just ignore them and be ourselves.”

“Indeed, her New Year's statement flatly contradicts her statement in Parliament on this less than 30 days ago.”

“Frankly, on these issues her lack of consistency sends a message of lack of any intellectual rigour or cohesion which is dangerous in the extreme in the context of government.”

See Ms Hassan Nahon’s full New Year message on page seven of today's print or e-edition.

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