Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, and Mayor of San Roque, Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, gave a talk on Brexit during the University of Cadiz Summer Courses.
In the Government of Gibraltar, the election of Boris Johnson as the new leader of the Conservative Party and therefore Prime Minister of the UK, has been greeted with natural expectation, but also with the reassurance that he has always supported the Gibraltarian people and their aspirations.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar himself, Fabian Picardo, said that he has been in contact with Johnson, both during his tenure as Mayor of London and as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. This contact has continued and even increased.
Picardo gave a talk on Brexit as part of the University of Cadiz Summer Courses on July 24th and publicly described Boris Johnson as a ‘friend of Gibraltar’ who has always shown support for the Rock in difficult times.
It’s worth remembering that Johnson was particularly harsh on Spanish foreign policy during García Margallo’s time as Foreign Minister, when the British politician went as far as to warn the Spanish government to “prise the hands off the throat” of Gibraltar.
Likewise, sources close to Picardo recall that during Boris Johnson’s time as Foreign Secretary he had, on several occasions, stated that the United Kingdom would always support the right to self-determination of the people of Gibraltar. Therefore, sovereignty should not be in doubt, nor would it be negotiated “against the wishes of the Gibraltarians.”
“Mr. Johnson’s support for the Gibraltarian people is proven by his track record, and it is logically assumed that it will continue to be so”, said Picardo.
The Chief Minister of Gibraltar defined the current political climate as “a rollercoaster that we’re all riding on, without knowing what awaits us in the future – because we are not fortune-tellers.”
“Citizens and especially those in the world of business have always thought of certainty as a necessity. At present, with the situation of political uncertainty faced by countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and even Spain; we must adapt to this uncertainty. We are heading for a different world and we cannot return to the one that we knew before”, Picardo pointed out.
The Chief Minister stressed that “in this context, Gibraltar continues to grow, both economically and demographically. We extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to our northern neighbours and want to keep our legal links with the United Kingdom, because our future is more secure with them than it would be with any other member state of the European Union.”
The Mayor of San Roque, Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, expressed concern on how the situation might affect the region in coming months.
“The assessment that we can make from here in terms of what may happen with Brexit is very different from that which can be made in London, Madrid or Seville, where they have other concerns to contend with… But we are talking about kindred populations, only a few kilometres apart, and how this will affect us on a day-to-day basis.”
Ruiz Boix, who also took part in the University of Cádiz Summer Courses, highlighted the fact that Brexit continues to be a highly topical subject, both in Gibraltar and in the Campo de Gibraltar.
The course, coordinated by professors Alejandro del Valle and Inmaculada González, as well as Gibraltarian lawyer Charles Gómez O’Brien, Honorary Professor in International Law at UCA, was held at the ‘Palacio de Los Gobernadores’ and the University of Gibraltar.
Over the course of three days, top-level experts analysed the content of possible agreements relating to the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, and the impact on the area.
However, issues relating to the possible consequences of Johnson’s rise to the highest political position in the UK has not been altogether well received by public figures on either side of the frontier.
The president of the Cross-Frontier Group, Loren Periáñez, took to social media with the laconic comment, “bad news”, when Boris Johnson was appointed. The mayor of La Línea Juan Franco declined to make a statement to this newspaper, despite the effects the implementation of a hard Brexit could have on his constituency.
Picardo’s Letter of Congratulations to the Prime Minister
Gibraltar, July 24, 2019
Dear Prime Minister,
As Chief Minister of Gibraltar, and on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, I congratulate you on your appointment as Prime Minister. I very much look forward to working with you in order to secure the best possible future for Gibraltar when we leave the European Union together with the United Kingdom.
I am comforted by your reassurance during our meeting of last week in relation to Gibraltar’s position as part of the UK family on nations in respect of any agreement that may be entered into with the EU post 31st October or in the absence of any such agreement.
I wish you every success in your term of office and look forward to the opportunity of meeting you again as soon as we may be able to agree.
With very best wishes my friend!
Fabian Picardo QC MP