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Johnson highlights UK-Gib common market in Luce response

Creating a UK-Gibraltar common market is an ‘important and urgent’ proposal, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said as he vowed that Britain will always stand by Gibraltar.

In a letter to Lord Luce, a former Governor of Gibraltar, Mr Johnson said the outcome of the EU referendum does not affect the UK’s “steadfast and long-standing” commitment to the Rock and its people.

Mr Johnson was replying to a letter Lord Luce had sent, supported by five other former Governors of Gibraltar, seeking reassurance and clarification about the UK Government’s policy towards Gibraltar in the light of the referendum result.

In his reply, Mr Johnson said that it will take some time for Britain’s future relationship with the EU to become clear.

“As we prepare for the process to exit the EU, the UK Government has committed to involve Gibraltar fully, as well as the devolved administrations, the Overseas Territories and all other regional centres of power, in accordance with their various constitutional relationships with the UK, to ensure that all of their interests are taken properly into account,” Mr Johnson said.

“It will be for the Prime Minister to make decisions about the format, timing and content of the negotiations with the European Union.”

Maintaining a well-functioning Gibraltar-Spain border is one of the UK Government’s top priorities, Mr Johnson said adding that this has not changed.

He pointed to comments made by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that the rights of workers on both sides of the border will remain unchanged throughout the negotiations.

“There will be no immediate changes in Gibraltar’s circumstances,” the new Foreign Secretary said. “Our main concern is to ensure that operations are efficient and well functioning.”

Mr Johnson further reiterated the UK Government’s “double lock” commitment on Gibraltar’s sovereignty, which states the UK “…will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against their wishes.”

“Nor will the UK enter into any process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.”

Mr Johnson told Lord Luce that his continued engagement, deep knowledge of Gibraltar and dedication to its people will be crucial as Parliament debates the new arrangements the British Government is planning for both Gibraltar and the UK’s continued relationship with the EU.

“I look forward to working with you to deliver on our commitment to safeguard Gibraltar, its people and its economy,” he said.