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Opinion & Analysis

#Stephen’sNiche: A short-lived love-in with Scotland

Is the romance, such as it was, between Fabian Picardo and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over? Listening to the Chief Minister on GBC’s Direct Democracy programme last week it would seem so.
When the UK as a whole voted in last year’s EU Referendum to leave the European Union Gibraltar was left casting about for friends. Scotland, which also voted to remain but by a smaller majority (62% compared with Gibraltar’s 96%), was an obvious ally. Within days talks had taken place and Mr Picardo confirmed in parliament that he and Ms Sturgeon had agreed that they had “a common purpose in exploring possibilities which could achieve our common objectives." The talk then was of a possible alliance between them and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, that also voted overwhelmingly against Brexit.
In July the Chief Minister and his deputy Joseph Garcia welcomed the First Minister to Gibraltar House in London. In a statement afterwards Number Six Convent Place said it was agreed that technical teams would continue their work to explore further the potential commonality of interests between Scotland and Gibraltar.
Yet in recent months, unless I missed it, not much has been heard about the work of these technical teams, nor indeed have the words “Scotland” or “Nicola Sturgeon” exactly tripped off the tongue of our political leaders when discussing Brexit.
It may be that the First Minister’s call for a second referendum on Scottish independence, much to the annoyance and consternation of Theresa May’s Conservative government, has had something to do with it. Unlike many Scots, Gibraltarians, for now anyway, have no ambition to be independent and the government may not wish to be associated with that aim.
Whatever the reason, Mr Picardo is certainly singing a different tune now.
“We can take the route of Scotland and confront the Prime Minister on every step she takes”, he said on Direct Democracy, “or we can take the route that we’ve taken.”
Which of course means throwing in your lot with Westminster rather than Holyrood, and joining the Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit, whose chairman Robin Walker MP was in Gibraltar last week.
Nicola or Theresa? At the end of the day Fabian knows which side Gibraltar’s bread is buttered on.
On a bum note, I’m sure the Chief Minister didn’t mean to offend the hard-working professionals in the Gibraltar Health Authority by how he referred to them in last week’s programme.
After denying that morale in the Authority is low following the resignation of several consultants (it’s “higher than ever” he claimed), and attributing recent criticisms of the GHA to the “bad apples” that have been thrown out, Mr Picardo suggested the important people are the “Rump…that are getting on with it.”
Now besides being your backside, the rump is also defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “A small or unimportant remnant of something originally larger.”
Quite the opposite of what Mr Picardo meant, and I’m sure the staff took it in the way it was intended.

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