The Rock continues to build ‘Brexit-resilience’, with two agreements signed yesterday in which the United Kingdom has agreed to underwrite part of certain Brexit projects in Gibraltar.
The date of the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU was postponed once again from 31 October 2019 to the 31 of January 2020.
This came after the House of Commons voted 322-306 in favour of amending the Government’s Brexit motion and to mandate a Brexit delay, leaving the British public divided as to whether they were tricked or treated this Halloween.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that Brexit would happen on the 31 “do or die”, and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit remains on the table. There is a pre-Christmas general election set for the 12th December 2019, depending on the result of which the future of Brexit will be determined.
A press release by the Government of Gibraltar on the 28th of October read “In the event that the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by the UK Parliament, then we will continue to work to mitigate the effects of a no deal Brexit in so far as we can. This will include the deployment of the different contingency plans that have been put in place over the last year.”
Yesterday, 7th November, has seen the progression of these Brexit contingency plans. The United Kingdom and the Government of Gibraltar met in the 10th Joint Ministerial Council for Gibraltar (JMC), and this included the signature of two new Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) in which the UK has agreed to financially underwrite part of certain contingency projects in Gibraltar.
The UK has agreed to fund the construction of the vehicular access ramp at the port in order to allow cargo trucks to and from ferries. The cost of these works, which are now complete, were estimated at £390,000. The objective of this project is to provide Gibraltar with greater resilience by sea in the event of a difficult border.
The second MoU relates to a project designed to provide greater resilience in the area of Gibraltar’s waste storage and export. The contingency plan for waste involves the purchase of machinery to shred, bale and wrap waste for storage and subsequent export by container. The machinery will cost in the region of £862,000 and this will be paid for by the United Kingdom after agreement was ratified during the JMC.
The Gibraltar Brexit team was led by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and included the Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Joseph Garcia, Attorney General Michael Llamas and Financial Secretary Albert Mena.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said:
“I am delighted that the Joint Ministerial Council has once again delivered concrete results for Gibraltar as we continue our preparations to leave the European Union. The United Kingdom Government has once again showed its commitment to the people of Gibraltar through the Memoranda of Understanding that were signed during the meeting and by providing direct financial support in respect of the funding of the contingency projects required to deal with a potential hard Brexit, or the resilience we will require in the absence of a deal with the EU at the end of a transition period. We will continue to work closely together as we await the outcome of elections in Spain this month and in the UK itself next month.”
The Gibraltar delegation also held other strategy meetings involving various departments of the UK Government. The discussions centred on the future way forward in relation to the proposed post-Brexit relationships between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The UK has already engaged extensively with Gibraltar on this. These negotiations about the future are expected to commence immediately if the UK and Gibraltar leave the European Union on 31 January.