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Opposition hits back on Licudi resignation (updated to include Govt response)

Gibraltar’s Opposition parties yesterday clashed with the Gibraltar Government in a tense political row following the resignation of Gilbert Licudi from ministerial office earlier this week.

In separate statements both the GSD and Together Gibraltar said that the current GSLP/Liberal Government was “weaker than ever.”

Additionally, both parties insisted that the tone of the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo’s response to them represented an attempt to divert attention away from other issues.

The Govt hit back at both parties, accusing both of “preaching the opposite” of what they had done themselves.

In a statement the GSD said: “The Government’s reaction to the GSD’s comments regarding Mr Licudi’s shock resignation is nothing other than a poor attempt at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”

“The unquestionable fact is that the Government is in troubled waters,” the party said adding that Mr Licudi’s resignation came just ten months after the general election.

The GSD added that this “significant political development” followed a number of other “controversies.”

In this regard the GSD, and indeed Together Gibraltar, highlighted the “open disagreement” between Sir Joe Bossano and the Chief Minister over the effects on Gibraltar’s economy of the Brexit negotiations.

“Only last month the GSD Opposition quizzed the Chief Minister at length over the recent, questionable resignation of the Commissioner of Police – leaving many questions unanswered,” the GSD said.

“The Government has also been under pressure in relation to the botched up job that has been the announcement of the full closure, then partial closure of Line Wall road, not to mention the other issues in connection with the hike in parking fees and medical appointments to name but a few.”

“To top it all the Chief Minister has unceremoniously booted Mr Balban out of his job as Minister for Health in an attempt, no doubt, to slip such a significant announcement so shortly after an election under cover of Mr Licudi’s resignation when one thing has nothing to do with the other.”

A GSD spokesman added that the Government’s statement is “simply inaccurate and intends to mislead.”

“We have not called for a Parliamentary resignation,” the GSD said.

“Others have done so but not us. But there is a big difference between the GSLP and the GSD. Unlike the GSD, the Alliance put all their candidates forward as potential Ministers for a four year term.”

“The electorate were none the wiser that this would not be the case for the full four years. There lies the difference. The GSD has not lost corporate memory as the Government suggests. What the Government is losing is the confidence not only of the electorate but of members of its own team.”

Together Gibraltar, meanwhile, slammed Mr Picardo’s “vitriol” and said: “The more nervous and insecure he is, the more he lashes out with insults and jibes.”

“In this case, he has characterised his political opponents as ‘hyenas’ for saying what everyone else in Gibraltar is thinking. That they now have dead wood in their ranks - a former minister who, just a few months after being elected, will spend the next three and a half years leeching on a 36k salary for doing absolutely nothing.”

TG added: “For a Chief Minister who proclaimed to usher in a ‘new age of responsibility’, not just after the general election, but also at the height of the Covid pandemic, he sets an incredibly poor example allowing his ministerial team to be whittled down and shovelling an extra load on the shoulders of the remaining ministers at one of the most critical times in Gibraltar’s history.”

Party leader Marlene Hassan Nahon said: “I don’t need to justify my own past decisions. The electorate has already done that for me. It clearly thought my performance post-GSD was value for money.”

“We doubt very much that the people of Gibraltar will consider Gilbert Licudi’s next three years to be the value for money that people deserve and voted for,” Together Gibraltar said.

The Gibraltar Government’s response to both parties was swift and terse.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the Government’s statement had “touched a nerve” for Together Gibraltar.

“There is nothing more effective in politics than pointing out that an opponent is preaching the opposite of what they have done themselves,” he said.

“It really does show them up for what they are.”

As for the GSD, the Government focused on the GSD’s statement on Mr Licudi’s choice to remain in parliament, and in particular the Opposition’s view that “unlike the GSD”, the GSLP/Liberals put up all its candidates at the last election as potential ministers.

“This is a remarkable revelation,” No.6 Convent Place said.

“The Government, on behalf of the People of Gibraltar, hereby formally asks the GSD to clarify when and where it purported that some of its candidates, if elected into Government, would not be ministers and who these candidates were.”

“This was not clear at the last election and the party must now clarify this statement so that the public should know whether any of those few GSD candidates actually elected were the ones who would be full time ministers or not.”

“Additionally, the GSD is reminded that it did call for the resignation from Parliament of Ms Hassan Nahon when she resigned from the party; and that they thought it was fine for Sir Peter Caruana to be a back bencher although they now argue, inexplicably, that different rules should apply to Hon Gilbert Licudi QC.”

“The GSD have a lot to explain to the electorate.”

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