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Parliament clashes over ‘appropriateness’ of Governor's remarks

Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Government and GSD clashed in Parliament over the “appropriateness” of comments made by the Governor Lieutenant General Edward Davis on matters of “local political controversy”.

As an aside amidst Monday’s debate on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill the Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, said Lt Gen Davis, as a representative of the Crown, should not be expressing views on the MoU’s and whether the agreement was good or bad for Gibraltar.

But his comments drew rebuke from the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo who said the comments were made as part of a “goodbye interview”, and that they were Lt Gen’s personal views and he was not speaking on behalf of the Foreign Office.

Additionally, he drew a distinction between a Governor explaining what his impressions are as he leaves the post – something he described as “unremarkable” – and a Governor taking a partisan position on his arrival.

“And that is what happened at the time of the arrival of another Royal Marine as Governor when they [the GSD] were in Government and views were expressed as to trilaterals and as to Cordoba Agreements,” Mr Picardo said.

This follows an interview given by Lt Gen Davis to the Chronicle in which he reflected on his time as Governor of Gibraltar including the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking in Parliament Mr Azopardi said Lt Gen Davis was “the Queen in Gibraltar” and whilst he had been a “popular and good governor” he should not be “immersing himself in matters of local political controversy.”

“It would have been as strange as if Her Majesty had expressed a view at the height of the differences between the Labour party and the Conservative party as to whether the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May was good for the UK,” he said.

“It was inappropriate for his Excellency to express views on matters of local political controversy,” he added.