Political spat over Sir Graham’s Brexit ‘lunatics’ tweet
Sir Graham Watson, Gibraltar’s advisor in Brussels, drew criticism from the GSD yesterday after he described Britain’s EU policy makers as “lunatics” in a tweet.
Sir Graham, a long-time friend of this community who has championed Gibraltar in the EU, was tweeting about the shock resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain’s EU ambassador.
“Sir Ivan Rogers has done the honourable thing,” he wrote.
“Managing Brexit under the lunatics in charge of the UK’s EU policy will be a nightmare.”
In tweeting that message, Sir Graham may have been reflecting a sentiment that many people here share privately.
But GSD leader Daniel Feetham said Sir Graham’s position as key lobbyist for Gibraltar in Brussels meant he should have shown restraint in his public comments.
“As a top level representative of Gibraltar at this crucial time he needs to be careful with statements he makes,” Mr Feetham said.
The Opposition leader said Sir Graham’s reference to ‘lunatics in charge’ appeared to be a reference to Dr Liam Fox and David Davis, Britain’s trade and Brexit ministers respectively and central figures in the Brexit process.
“At the very least it can be interpreted as such,” Mr Fetham said.
“These are good friends of Gibraltar and on whom Gibraltar will depend moving forwards in any Brexit negotiations.”
“For someone representing Gibraltar to make those types of comments is unhelpful to say the least.”
Mr Feetham’s party has questioned the Gibraltar Government’s handling of the preparations for Brexit and has been slammed as disloyal as a result.
Yesterday, Mr Feetham said this was in stark contrast to Sir Graham’s comments.
“No doubt the Government will wish to disassociate itself from them,” he said.
When GSD criticises Govt policy on BREXIT we are disloyal. When head of Gib Brussels office calls UK EU policy makers "lunatics" its fine. pic.twitter.com/ltlqI1MCQU
— Daniel Feetham (@dannyfeetham) January 4, 2017
Sir Graham, a former Liberal Democrat MEP, was in Canada on vacation when he was contacted by the Chronicle yesterday for comment.
He was unaware of the GSD’s reaction to his tweet but moved to play down any controversy.
“I was tweeting in a personal capacity and not as a representative of the Gibraltar Government,” he said.
Sir Graham’s work for Gibraltar is widely known, but the biography on his Twitter account makes no mention of it.
Last night the Gibraltar Government distanced itself from Sir Graham’s controversial tweet.
“Sir Graham Watson is a consultant who carries out tasks for the Government of Gibraltar: he is not a Civil Servant,” a spokesman for No 6 Convent Place said.
“His comments on Twitter were entirely his own personal views and do not in any way represent the Government of Gibraltar’s position.”