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Opposition parties wish Licudi well, but ask questions

Gibraltar’s Opposition parties have both wished former Education Minister Gilbert Licudi well following his decision to take a step back from frontline politics, even as Together Gibraltar called for a by-election.

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi expressed surprise at Mr Licudi’s decision, adding that it represents “a blow to the Executive quality of the Gibraltar Government which will be worse without him.”

“He’s given personal reasons which I respect. I’ve wished him well and thanked him for his contribution over the years,” Mr Azopardi said in a comment on social media.

Mr Azopardi added: “Stepping back from this it’s been a summer of disarray for the Government. We’ve had the circumstances leading to the early retirement of the former Commissioner culminating in a Public Inquiry; Joe Bossano saying that he takes a “totally different” view to the Chief Minister on the post Brexit discussions and now the departure of one of its leading Ministers when there’s still three years of this term of office.”

Meanwhile, Together Gibraltar Leader Marlene Hassan Nahon said the timing of the decision was “particularly worrying” given the “complicated” return to school in the coming weeks.

She added: “The reality is that nine Ministers will now be doing the job of 10, at a time of global economic and health crisis.”

“If Mr Licudi feels like his time in active politics is over, he should give way to someone with energy and a desire to help Gibraltar through these difficult times, and this person should be elected democratically.”

“As for his future role in parliament, the GSLP criticised the GSD for allowing Sir Peter Caruana to perform a similar role after he lost the 2011 election, performing little more than a symbolic [duty] for the duration of that legislature.”

“Unfortunately we are going through difficult times in which we are asking people to manage their expectations, and should not be spending public money on symbolic roles.”

Nonetheless, Ms Hassan Nahon said her party “respects Gilbert Licudi’s decision to stand down from his ministerial role during these stressful times and we wish him all the best for the future.”

This comes as the teachers’ union - Gibraltar NASUWT - also wished Mr Licudi well in his return to legal practice.

The Gibraltar NASUWT Executive said it looks forward to working with the new Minister for Education, Dr John Cortes once again.

“We hope to approach the many difficulties and challenges ahead of us together, in full consultation and collaboration, for the benefit of staff and students alike,” the union said in a statement.

“Our main priority is to open schools in September safely and to ensure that they remain open and fully operational by ensuring that our teachers, LSAs, technicians, cleaners, caretakers, admin staff and of course, our students remain Covid-free.”

A spokesperson for Gibraltar NASUWT added: “We are delighted to welcome Prof Cortes back into the Education Ministry. He has already made contact with union President Charlie Bishop just an hour and a half after being given the portfolio to communicate his desire to meet with the Executive and discuss matters of mutual interest.”

“Going forward, reducing the risk of an outbreak is the best way to ensure that schools remain open. This is our main priority as the union Executive and as teaching professionals. We look forward to discussing these matters, and others with Minister Cortes in the coming days.”

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