Lord Luce urges Spain to drop ‘Francoist provocations’ and show EU leadership on Gib
Lord Luce, a former Governor of Gibraltar, has said Brexit presents a chance for Spain to show democratic leadership and lay to rest the “Francoist provocations of the past”, to instead find ways of working with the UK and Gibraltar for the benefit of communities on either side of the border.
In an article for the UK Parliament’s House magazine, Lord Luce flags the recent EU Select Committee report which called for Gibraltar’s voice to be heard in Brexit talks, something the crossbench peer has welcomed.
The report, he said, has many constructive points to make for the negotiations which include strengthening access for passporting services to the UK and specific bilateral arrangements between Spain and Gibraltar, for example in relation to local border traffic management.
“Whatever happens and however many difficulties we face in the negotiations, the UK government must do everything to uphold our responsibilities to the good people of Gibraltar,” Lord Luce wrote.
“We owe much to the Gibraltarians, particularly their role in the Second World War.”
“But here too is a chance for a modern Spain which has a role to lead as a democracy in a changing EU now to finally put behind us all the Francoist provocations of the past and to work together for stronger positive cooperation for the benefit of Gibraltar and the region of Andalucia.”
Lord Luce said the Lords’ Committee was right to emphasise the damage that could be done to Spanish as well as Gibraltarian economic interests through any loss of access to the EU single market or to the flow of people across the border.
“The region as a whole would suffer,” he said, adding that Britain and Spain have a mutual interest in good relations.
“We invest in and trade with each other on a large scale; there are some 300,000 British citizens living in Spain and we have many common interests internationally.”
He added that Spanish provocations over Gibraltar on the border and at sea have from time to time undermined this relationship.
“We must hope that the Brexit outcome will enable us to have a more respectful and mutually beneficial relationship over Gibraltar to the economic and security benefit of both countries,” he said, although he warned that it will need a change of mind set by the Spanish government.