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Picardo welcomes Westminster support in difficult times

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said this week he had been “heartened” by the support for Gibraltar expressed by British politicians on both sides of the EU referendum debate.

Mr Picardo was speaking at a reception in the House of Commons at the end of a two-day visit to London packed with meetings with Conservative and Labour MPs at a time of upheaval in British politics.

The Chief Minister and his delegation, which included deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia and Attorney General Michael Llamas, met with representatives from across the British political spectrum, setting out Gibraltar’s concerns as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

“The people of Gibraltar are concerned about what the future holds,” Mr Picardo said.

“I don’t think that is exclusive to Gibraltar. I think people generally are concerned about what the future holds.”

“But I leave the United Kingdom to go back to Gibraltar tomorrow heartened by the support that we have in all sectors of society and in all parts of parliament, but in particular in both sides of the Leave and Remain debate.

“I am confident that whatever the future holds, we will have strong support in the British parliament, both in respect of our free-flowing frontier and in particular in respect of the sovereignty of Gibraltar.”

Mr Picardo was addressing guests at a reception in honour Albert Poggio, Gibraltar’s representative in London who retires ate the end of this month after decades of service to this community.

The event was attended by MPs and Lords from across the political spectrum in Westminster, including the deputy Speaker and longtime friend of Gibraltar, Labour MP Lyndsay Hoyle.

Guests included senior dignitaries, among them the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, and some of his predecessors in the post. Several London-based Gibraltarians were also at the reception in the State Rooms in Speaker’s House.

Mr Picardo praised the work that Mr Poggio had done in assisting the Gibraltar Government of Sir Peter Caruana in fighting the 2002 joint sovereignty proposal, using the occasion to send a message to the current acting Spanish government.

“The people of Gibraltar spoke loudly and clearly in 2002 to defeat the proposals then put,” he said.

“We haven’t changed. We never will change. We want to remain British.”

He added: “Every Gibraltarian, every friend of Gibraltar, now has a lot of work to do shaping the future in a way that is going to be as kind to Gibraltar as the past few years have been.