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UK ‘must go further’ on Gib Brexit commitments - Azopardi

Britain must be “clearer and more robust” in its assurances to Gibraltar in the Brexit negotiations, GSD Leader Keith Azopardi will say tonight in a New Year message broadcast on GBC.

Mr Azopardi, who became the party’s leader last November, will also insist that any beneficial trade and transitional arrangements agreed by the UK and the EU must be extended to Gibraltar.

The message will cover a wide range of current issues, including Mr Azopardi’s plans to re-energise the GSD and make it “the natural home for the moderate centre-ground of Gibraltar politics”.

But the principal focus will be on Brexit and its impact on Gibraltar economy and way of life.

“So far the assurances of Prime Minister May in the UK Parliament have fallen well short of the categorical promises that we need,” Mr Azopardi will say.

“She has said that Gibraltar is included in the negotiations that the UK is conducting with the EU.”

“But including us in the negotiations is not the same as including us in a beneficial agreement. It is simply not good enough.”

“The UK’s public assurances need to be clearer and her resolve more robust.”

Mr Azopardi will insist that no Brexit deal can be done unless it has “the express consent” of the government and people of Gibraltar, add that the Gibraltar Government must be involved “as a key participant” in any discussions.

The GSD Leader will tell viewers that Gibraltar must ensure the UK “does not let us down at the eleventh hour”.

“We need to stand firm as a united community to make sure that does not happen,” he will say, adding: “We have done so before and can do so again.”

Mr Azopardi will also reflect on the EU’s negotiating mandate and Spain’s “wholly unacceptable” bid to have a controlling say in the application of any transitional arrangements or future trade deal to Gibraltar.

“Subjecting Gibraltar and our future to the whim of Spain is completely unacceptable as is the concept that our future should be decided bilaterally between Britain and Spain,” he will say.

“Our future and whether any agreement is entered into can only be decided by Gibraltar and its Government.”

He will call on the Gibraltar Government to “leave no stone unturned” in its efforts to secure a successful Brexit for Gibraltar, adding that pressure must be maintained on the UK Government.

“There is no more important task in the year ahead,” Mr Azopardi will say.

“For our part the GSD will remain alive to these threats and responsive to developments.”

“We are ready to participate in any united front that is necessary in the public interest of Gibraltar.”

Mr Azopardi’s New Year message will be broadcast tonight at 8.30pm on GBC.

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