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Treasury minister who worked on Gib issues moved in reshuffle

EU and UK flags fly above the EU Commission offices in Westminster, London. David Cameron is making final efforts to bolster support for his proposed European Union reforms before a crunch summit. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 17 2016. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA

A Treasury minister who was closely involved in discussions relating to Gibraltar and Brexit has been moved to a different department as part of Theresa May’s reshuffle.

Stephen Barclay, former economic secretary to the Treasury, has been appointed minister of state at the Department of Health and Social Care.

In his Treasury role, Mr Barclay was involved in the Joint Ministerial Council on Brexit and Gibraltar, particularly on talk to ensure continued access to the UK market for Gibraltar-based firms.

Last October during the Gibraltar Day in London events, he delivered a speech to a high-powered audience of UK and Gibraltar business executives at the annual Gibraltar Finance Centre lunch at the Guildhall.

“I know that Gibraltar has no intention of being a back door, but instead a centre of high quality financial services,” Mr Barclay said at the time.

“And it remains the UK Government’s intention that Gibraltarian financial services firms continue to have the access to the UK they have today and that any disruption is avoided.”

Mr Barclay’s move to the Department of Health and Social Care will be a disappointment to the Gibraltar Government, whose ministers and officials had established a solid working relationship with him.

But the fact that the UK’s commitments to Gibraltar stem from the Prime Minister and her senior Caninet ministers, none of whom have changed roles, mean that the shift in post will have little impact on the UK's core position in respect of Gibraltar.

Additionally Robin Walker, junior minister at the Department for Exiting the EU, will remain in his current, where he has played the lead role in the UK Government’s dealings with Gibraltar on Brexit.

Last night Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said he was “genuinely pleased” that Mr Walker would remain in his ministerial post “…so we will continue our Brexit work together in the mutual interest and benefit of Gibraltar and the UK.”

He also welcomed that Sir Alan Duncan, Minister for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign Office, would also remain in post, describing him as “a long term & genuine friend of Gibraltar who is always ready to assist when the chips are down.”

Mr Picardo also said it had been “a pleasure” to work with Mr Barclay, who he described as “a good friend”.

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