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Labour win opens ‘new opportunities’ with Socialist governments in London, Madrid and Gibraltar

Labour’s landslide victory in the UK general election draws an “ideological line” from London through Madrid to Gibraltar that will open new opportunities at a critical time in the negotiation on a UK/EU treaty for the Rock, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Friday.

Mr Picardo was speaking as results showed a Labour majority of 176 with 648 of 650 seats declared. Labour had 412 seats and the Tories 121.

In his first speech outside No.10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer said the country could “move forward together” as Labour took office following 14 years of Conservative rule.

“Now our country has voted decisively for change, for national renewal and a return of politics to public service,” he said.

“When the gap between the sacrifices made by people and the service they receive from politicians grows this big, it leads to a weariness in the heart of a nation, a draining away of the hope, the spirit, the belief in a better future.”

“But we need to move forward together. Now this wound, this lack of trust can only be healed by actions not words, I know that.”

“But we can make a start today with the simple acknowledgement that public service is a privilege and that your government should treat every single person in this country with respect.”

He said “my Government will serve you, politics can be a force for good”, adding: “The work of change begins immediately, but have no doubt, we will rebuild Britain.”

Sir Keir announced his Cabinet shortly after the statement, appointing David Lammy as Foreign Secretary.

Earlier this week ahead of Thursday’s vote, Mr Lammy told a briefing with foreign correspondents in London that he would “pick up and get into” the Gibraltar negotiation if appointed Foreign Secretary after a Labour win.

On Friday he said in a tweet on X: “It is the honour of my life to be appointed Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.”

“The world faces huge challenges, but we will navigate them with the UK’s enormous strengths.”

“We will reconnect Britain for our security and prosperity at home.”

In Gibraltar, the Chief Minister said the Labour victory would give a new dynamic to the treaty negotiation.

Although technical discussions have continued during the UK and earlier EU elections, political negotiation in the final stages has been on hold pending the outcome in the UK vote.

“For the first time in history since democracy returned to Spain, since we have had democracy in Gibraltar, there is going to be an opportunity for those of us who are of the left to see an ideological line drawn from London through Madrid to Gibraltar,” Mr Picardo told Parliament at the start of a closing Budget address.

“And I do not believe this could come at a more important time.”

The Chief Minister signalled that the outcome of the UK general election would likely have a positive impact on the negotiation for a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar.

Mr Picardo said he had known the UK’s next Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, professionally and politically “for many years” – they met at a conference in the Cayman Islands on September 11, 2001, and were together when the Twin Towers came down – and said the same applied to Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“So for the first time, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar is on first name terms with the Prime Minister of Spain and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,” Mr Picardo told Parliament.

“Another hugely important opportunity to try and leverage those friendships, those political alliances, for the benefit of Gibraltar without crossing any red lines.”

“That doesn't mean that we agree on everything, that we're not going to disagree, that there aren't opportunities even for vehement disagreement.”

“But there are now opportunities that have not been there before.”

Mr Picardo said he was “heartened” by public statements ahead of the vote by then shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy that Labour was ready in government to move ahead with the Gibraltar negotiation, something that had already been expressed privately to the Gibraltar Government.

The Chief Minister said he looked forward to continuing the “excellent relationship” with the new Foreign Secretary that he had enjoyed with successive foreign secretaries.

He also thanked the outgoing Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the Conservative Government for their support for Gibraltar since 2010.

He had kind words too for some Conservative MPs who kept their seats, including former Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary James Cleverly who had always “continued to care about Gibraltar” both in and out of his ministerial roles.

He was less flattering about Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, the arch Brexiteer who lost his seat and whose views on Gibraltar “were not views that anybody could reasonably share” and, Mr Picardo said, portrayed a misunderstanding of Gibraltar and sovereignty.

And he said one of the best moments of the night was when Sarah Sackman was returned as MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Margaret Thatcher’s former seat.

Ms Sackman is of Gibraltarian heritage, the granddaughter of Solomon Seruya, a former Economic Development Minister in Gibraltar.

“I was delighted to see that she had turned that race around,” Mr Picardo said.

“And it's a testament not just to her own work, but also to the work of Sir Kier Starmer in changing the way that the Labour party had been seen as antisemitic, in particular in that constituency which is heavily Jewish.”

Mr Picardo noted too that the GSLP was in an alliance with the Liberal Party and that the Liberal Democrats had also enjoyed a strong electoral result and were “the great winners” on the night, jumping from eight to 71 seats.

“This is Liberals going further and getting more seats than ever before since they were in government at the turn of the 20th century,” Mr Picardo said.

“So a real sea change in the United Kingdom, which we hope will be, of course, good for the United Kingdom.”

Keith Azopardi, the leader of the Opposition, also acknowledged the electoral result, congratulating the Labour party and thanking the Conservatives for their support in recent years.

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