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Opinion & Analysis

Vote for positive change - don’t be afraid of Brexit

By Keith Azopardi

We are fighting a positive and constructive campaign based on our exciting programme for Government. The GSLP message that you should fear change because of the BREXIT unknown is decidedly negative.

But if you vote GSLP you know you will get more borrowing and no answers on how your money is spent. They cannot be trusted on the economy.

After all they promised to halve the gross public debt in Gibraltar in 2011 and they have tripled it to a staggering £1.3 Billion.

They cannot be trusted on BREXIT preparations either. They were criticised in the leaked Yellowhammer Report in August this year for not being ready.

They defended themselves by saying it was out of date. But it later transpired that the document was actually dated 2 August 2019 – only 16 days earlier. And if they are so ready for BREXIT why did the BREXIT Information Office not open till 2 October – a few days ago. They have had three years to get ready. So why back more of the same?

The reality is that BREXIT is a massive smokescreen of a reason to vote for the GSLP. If the UK strikes a deal in the next few days then we will leave with a deal on 31 October because this will likely proceed along the basis of an amended form of the already negotiated EU Withdrawal Agreement which contains a Gibraltar Protocol.

That Agreement provides for largely transitional arrangements till 31 December 2020 to allow a permanent deal with the EU to be negotiated. Linked to that the current Government entered into MOUs with Spain.

While we criticized that set of agreements because, for example, they did not secure enduring gains on freedom of movement or single market access we will work with them until the end of the transitional period because they are better than no deal. We will have until then to replace those transitional arrangements with better permanent arrangements. We firmly believe we can obtain a good deal with the EU where the GSLP Government failed. The last three years have been a lost opportunity for Gibraltar.

If however there is no deal and the UK leaves without a deal then we would inherit the contingency planning prepared by civil servants and build on that. We would also seek arrangements with Spain to guarantee freedom of movement across the border for all citizens.

So in either case BREXIT is not a reason to reluctantly back the GSLP.

Our 124-page manifesto is constructed on the assumption that a no deal BREXIT will happen.

Our plan to deal with BREXIT is set out in that document by linking the various strands in it. We intend to ensure economic success and sustainability. We have a long-term strategy for the environmental, economic and social development of Gibraltar.

We will manage our debt properly, cut down wastage, increase efficiency and tell you how your money is spent. We will ensure a workforce that is trained and equipped with skills. We will look to new markets – south and east. We will modernise our care services and we will deal with the democratic deficit.

We can do all those things. We will also need strength as a people. And we will need to work together strongly – with a firm resolve because we will be tested. Your GSD team is ready for that. Ready to do the job. Like we were in 1996 when I was part of that team.

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