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Margallo’s “carrot and stick” will not work, says GSD

The Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, has underscored the importance of focusing on what is “possible” rather than “red herrings” such as the reverse Greenland model that “never had any chance of success”.

The focus, Mr Feetham said, has to be in working with the United Kingdom to ensure the Rock is not excluded from any deal that is negotiated with the United Kingdom.

This follows certain comments made by the acting Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo regarding Gibraltar during his first visit to the Campo de Gibraltar since taking office.

There is nothing in what Sr Margallo said in Algeciras yesterday that can be attractive to the Gibraltarian, the GSD said in a statement yesterday.

The Opposition slammed Sr Margallo for failing to understand that the people of Gibraltar will not agree to Joint Sovereignty and will not cave in to threats.

Mr Feetham said: "The GSD has always stood for dialogue to seek ways to improve the economies and standard of living of people on both sides of the frontier but never at the price of joint sovereignty.”

“Sr Margallo's carrot and stick approach will not work and it's high time he realised this, though it seems in his case he will pursue the agenda regardless.”

“One issue that is clear, however, is that Sr Margallo will attempt to exclude Gibraltar from a UK-EU Brexit deal at a very early juncture and shortly after the UK delivers an article 50 notice by the end of March next year.”

He added: “I have warned Parliament about this possibility during the debate on the creation of the EU Select Committee.”

“Once the UK delivers its article 50 notice, the EU Commission and the UK Government will attempt to agree the areas which will be on the agenda for the purposes of a Brexit deal.”

“It is at that stage that Spain will attempt to exclude Gibraltar.”

“If successful it will mean that while Gibraltar will continue to form part of the EU during the two years it might take the for the UK to negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU, we will know that we will have been excluded from it at the outset of the process,” Mr Feetham said, adding that this could be as early as the summer of next year.

“This is why it is so important to concentrate on what is important and possible, rather than red herrings such as the reverse Greenland model that never had any chance of success.”

“Our focus has to be to work with the UK to ensure it stands firm and that we are not excluded from any deal she negotiates with the EU but at the same time to be prepared if we are excluded by putting forward workable fall back options.”

EU OPTIONS

Last night the Gibraltar Government said Mr Feetham was wrong to ‘write-off any future EU option for Gibraltar’.

No. 6 Convent Place stressed that it is exploring all the options for Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU.

This has included the reverse Greenland option on the basis that it is the only precedent where a part of a Member State has remained in the EU while another part of it has left, the Government said, adding that Gibraltar is not the only member of the British family of nations that has examined this option.

This option and various permutations of it remain on the table and are actively under consideration, the Government said.

Mr Feetham “is wrong to help the Spanish Foreign Minister to remove it from consideration”, No. 6 said, adding that the GSD statement was therefore “badly timed” because it “plays into Sr Margallo's hands” and is evidence of “another serious error of judgment” on Mr Feetham's part.

According to the Government, the reverse Greenland model is only one of several models that it has been looking at.

“The Opposition have to understand that it is our duty to look at all options,” it said.

“The only model that the Government has ruled out is the proposal made again by the Acting Spanish Foreign Minister for shared sovereignty between the United Kingdom and Spain.”

“This is why the Government neither via ministers or any officials or otherwise, has not entered into any discussions, secret or otherwise, with Mr Margallo. Nor will we.”

As for the security of Gibraltar, it is in public finance terms, more secure than ever now that the GSLP Liberal Government is in charge of the administration of Gibraltar’s affairs, No. 6 stated.

“Our public finances are stronger than ever and Mr Feetham needs to stop trying to scare people in this respect, especially at this sensitive time in our history, just for the sake of trying to frighten people into supporting him,” it added.