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Crunch Time for Gibraltar in EU: The View from Europa Point

@FRAN MONTES

Gibraltar and EU Elections: ‘The View from Europa Point’

It took a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in 1999 by a young Gibraltarian woman Denise Matthews to force the UK to enfranchise Gibraltarians and EU residents in Gibraltar in European Elections. In Ms. Matthews’ legal team were the equally young lawyer Fabian Picardo, now Chief Minister and the current Attorney General Michael Llamas.

Denise Matthews
Denise Matthews

A subsequent complaint to the European Court of Justice by the Kingdom of Spain failed and people in Gibraltar have been able to vote in European Elections since 2004. Gibraltar had joined the European Economic Community, predecessor of the EU in 1973, as a European territory for which the British Member State has responsibility. For the most part European law applies on the Rock.

Throughout this time since 2004 Gibraltar has been in the electoral constituency of the South West of England which also includes Bristol Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Traditionally Gibraltarians have supported the Liberal Democrats, ironically perhaps given that in 1998 a motion by the late, great pro-Gibraltarian Lord Bethel to enfranchise the people here was defeated by the then Labour Government aided and abetted by the Liberal Democrats.

Gibraltar EU Elections History

Membership of the EU has provided Gibraltar with benefits, protections and a general sense of security, so the Brexit referendum result of June 2016 came as a shock to Gibraltarians who voted to remain by a whopping 96% of the electorate.

It is thought that at the European Elections on the 23rd May 2019 the people of Gibraltar will vote for parties who want there to be another referendum in the hope that Brexit will be scrapped.

However since 2016 the EU has lost some of its luster in Gibraltarian eyes as European Council President Donald Tusk and others in the machinery of European governance have been seen to favour Spain in what many on the Rock believe to be attitudes of betrayal.

As in previous elections, this year there will be a Gibraltarian candidate in the Liberal Democrat list in the person of 20 year old Luke Stagnetto a politics and international relations undergraduate at the University of Bristol.

Gibraltar EU Elections History

The Liberal Democrats have a sister party in Gibraltar, the Liberal Party of Dr. Joseph Garcia who are in the governing coalition with the Gibraltar Socialist & Labour Party. The Lib Dems got 67.2% of the votes on the Rock in the 2014 EU polls.

All Gibraltarian parties want Brexit to be revoked with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo having famously said recently that he will celebrate with vigour if the UK and Gibraltar finally remain in the EU.

The question now is how long will the Moët et Chandon need to be kept in the fridges of 6 Convent Place; or will we have to settle for Brexit craft ale?

Gibraltar and EU Elections: ‘The View from Europa Point’

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