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Lord Cameron to be quizzed by Commons committee chaired by Brexiteer Sir William Cash

Lord Cameron, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia and UK ambassador to the EU, Lindsay Appleby, in Brussels last Thursday.

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron will be questioned by the European Scrutiny Committee today on the UK’s new relationship with the EU, including the UK/EU negotiation for a treaty on Gibraltar’s future relations with the bloc.

The evidence session, which starts at 3pm UK time, will cover the Windsor Framework, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, “the operation of Gibraltar’s border” and cooperation on migration.

The session comes just days after a high-level meeting in Brussels between Lord Cameron, his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares, European Commission vice president and lead negotiator Maroš Šefčovič, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.

Despite wide expectation of a breakthrough, there was no final agreement in the talks although negotiators pointed to “important breakthroughs”, a “constructive atmosphere” and a continued shared commitment to finalise a treaty. They vowed to continue negotiating in the coming days.

When he is questioned on the Gibraltar negotiation today, Lord Cameron will face a hostile European Scrutiny Committee which earlier this month warned some aspects under negotiation represented “a significant diminution of British sovereignty”.

Sir Bill Cash, a Eurosceptic Conservative MP and chairman of the committee, said negotiations over Gibraltar risked becoming “Northern Ireland Protocol 2.0”.

MPs on the European Scrutiny Committee raised concerns about the role and powers of EU immigration officials on Gibraltar soil, and about alignment with EU rules and the potential indirect oversight of the European Court of Justice [ECJ].

Sir William Cash called on the UK Government to “stop and take stock” and clearly set out its negotiating red lines so that all stakeholders could have their say.

But Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told Sir William Cash at the time that he found “abhorrent” the suggestion the UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar would diminish the Rock’s British sovereignty in any way.

The Chief Minister said the UK and Gibraltar were working as one in the negotiation but that MPs would benefit from hearing directly from the Gibraltar Government and that Gibraltarians were “the best guardians” of the Rock’s sovereignty.

“I want to be clear immediately that the impression some of your members have expressed, that British sovereignty will be diminished in any way by the agreements we are seeking, is one that is abhorrent to me,” Mr Picardo said in a letter to Sir William, later released by the Gibraltar Government.

“As Chief Minister of Gibraltar I am not prepared to cede an iota of our British sovereignty.”

“Were there any such risk, my team would have walked away from these talks immediately. We would still do so even today.”

Mr Picardo had made himself available to address the committee at the earliest opportunity, expressing regret that an earlier offer had not been taken up and that a letter he addressed to committee MPs had “uncharacteristically, not had the benefit of a reply”.

The MPs have not taken up that offer.

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