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Political row over Brexit festers as GSD hits back at Govt

The Rock of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar is seen from a ship off Gibraltar December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The GSD said the Gibraltar Government must accept responsibility for its “bad Brexit deal” given that there has been a “systematic attempt to go it alone in Brexit discussions”.

This comes after Chief Minister Fabian Picardo last week dismissed GSD Leader Keith Azopardi’s “vicious, vacuous and empty” accusations his government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations.

He was reacting after the GSD Leader said Mr Picardo had “dug a hole for himself” by backing Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which was roundly rejected by a majority of MP’s in the House of Commons this week.

In the latest salvo in a festering row, the GSD said Mr Picardo “cannot have his cake and eat it”.

“There has been a systematic attempt to go it alone in Brexit discussions,” the party said, adding: “As that has been the Government’s choice, they need to accept the responsibility that this is their bad deal.”

The GSD said repeated its belief that the deal negotiated by the Chief Minister as part of the withdrawal process had achieved nothing enduring for Gibraltar and allowed Spain a say in the Rock’s affairs. The government rejects that analysis.

It added that Mr Picardo’s reaction to the GSD’s opposition consisted of “layer upon layer of excuses, false statements or abuse” of Mr Azopardi.

“It is false to represent that Mr Picardo meaningfully involved Mr Azopardi in shaping the deal by showing him the drafts as a fait accompli the day before they were published for a few minutes,” the GSD said.

“That is a ridiculous suggestion no one believes.”

The party also rejected as “false” the government’s claim that GSD MPs held a different position to Mr Azopardi on the Brexit deal.

“Mr Picardo appears to want to be congratulated for holding many meetings with people,” the GSD said.

“We have acknowledged he has had many meetings. But he will be judged by results.”

“He has achieved nothing enduring and beyond all his bluster and smokescreens we are yet to hear one word about what it is exactly that he has achieved for Gibraltar of an enduring nature.”

It added that the whole debate surrounding the Northern Ireland backstop was because it is enduring.

“Where is our Gibraltar backstop on freedom of movement?” the GSD asked.

“What precisely have we got in exchange for giving Spain a say in our affairs?”
The GSD said it was not Mr Azopardi’s analysis that was at issue.

Mr Picardo is uncomfortable, it added, because “he has been found out, because his deal is a bad deal and because he does not like being told he has failed.”

It is Mr Picardo's handling of the process that is the problem, the GSD insisted adding: “We are in this hole because of him.”

“If Mr Picardo wants blind adulation he will not find it in the GSD ranks.”

The GSD also reacted to “jibes” levied at Mr Azopardi by the Government over the fact that was not an elected member of the Gibraltar Parliament.

“Mr Azopardi was elected by GSD members in the second contested leadership election the party has had and will do his job whatever Mr Picardo says,” the GSD said.

“Despite all his jibes about Mr Azopardi the fact is that the GSLP and Mr Picardo in particular has never had to face an internal contested election so his jibes run hollow when his own election was by acclamation.”

“Mr Picardo would do well to drop his attempt to marginalise Mr Azopardi on the grounds he is unelected.”

“The GSD is the main opposition party and if Mr Picardo wants to meaningfully engage with the Opposition in a constructive fashion he will need to deal with Mr Azopardi.”

“It is ironic that he has no issue dealing with as Mr Picardo would describe the "unelected" Pedro Sanchez but in Gibraltar makes constant jibes to the leader of the main opposition party.”

“Despite all that we stand ready to work together with Government if there is a serious attempt at a joint approach. What we will not do is be their smokescreen for their mistakes after the event.”

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