Opposition MPs to receive further Brexit briefing
The Chief Minister will convene a meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Exiting the European Union in order to brief GSD and independent Opposition MPs and keep them abreast of recent developments.
In a statement the Government indicated that this will happen upon the return of the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, to Gibraltar from the Joint Ministerial Council on Gibraltar’s Exit from the European Union.
The Deputy Chief Minister will provide the briefings alongside Mr Picardo, No. 6 Convent Place explained.
This comes after both the Leader of the GSD, Keith Azopardi, and Independent MP Lawrence Llamas wrote to Mr Picardo urging him to brief the Opposition on the current state of Brexit discussions following the conclusion of the first round of negotiations.
This follows the announcement of a political agreement between the EU and UK allowing the parties to now enter into a second phase of discussions as part of the process leading to Britain’s departure of the EU.
Mr Azopardi further offered the Gibraltar Government the GSD’s continued cross-party support and participation in discussions with the UK and EU going forward.
In a statement Mr Llamas explained that in view of the reports last week relating to the advance made in relation to the Brexit negotiations and its possible implications for Gibraltar, he has written to the Chief Minister urging a meeting of the Brexit select committee to provide Opposition MPs with a better understanding of the Government’s work and position.
According to No. 6 briefings with members of the Opposition will be confidential and will allow Mr Picardo and Dr Garcia to share some of the more sensitive information available to the Government with Members of Parliament about the progress of discussions and the expected effect of recent events and agreements for Gibraltar.
There have already been two informal briefings of Opposition MPs, including Independents, to date.
The Government envisages continuing with this process until Gibraltar’s departure from the European Union has been finalised.
Mr Picardo said: “It is important that, at this sensitive time for Gibraltar, we are as united as we are able to be on issues which arise from the Brexit negotiations.”
“That is the best way to protect the interests of Gibraltar and of future generations.”
“Much of what we read in the international press is relevant to Gibraltar, but not necessarily in the way that matters are interpreted by commentators who are considering things from the perspective of other jurisdictions.”
“We have to be clear about where Gibraltar’s interests lie and the Deputy Chief Minister and I will, therefore, continue to brief GSD and independent MPs on the information and analysis available to the Government and on what is informing our thinking as we take these discussions and negotiations forward.”
In a statement of its own the GSD said it is firmly of the view that any beneficial transitional arrangements that are entered into must extend to Gibraltar.
It added that the arrangements that in principle could be entered into for Northern Ireland show that it is possible to have appropriate arrangements in respect of special circumstances.
“These can only be entered into in respect of Gibraltar with the consent of the people of Gibraltar and be unconditional in nature.”
They cannot be conditional on Gibraltar giving concessions to Spain, the GSD said.
As the EU and UK now enter into this second phase of discussions it is important that the Gibraltar Government is not just consulted but fully participates in those discussions where it is relevant to Gibraltar.
Mr Azopardi said: “Navigating the consequences of Brexit is the most important current challenge for Gibraltar.”
“The Government needs to be alive to the dangers in these talks and ensure it is kept fully abreast of developments.”
“It is also important it is guaranteed a seat at the table at technical and political talks involving Gibraltar.”
“We need to be careful that any arrangements that are discussed work for Gibraltar and guarantee freedom of movement and our fundamental rights.”
“We are after all UK citizens for the purposes of the EU Treaties.”
“Additionally and because of the special nature of the challenge this is an issue on which Government and Opposition should work together in the interests of Gibraltar.”
“That is why I have today written to the Chief Minister to ask him to brief the GSD (on a confidential basis if necessary) on the current state of discussions and to offer our continued cross-party support and participation in discussions with the UK and EU as we go forward.” said Mr Azopardi.