Brexit: Picardo says Gibraltar will ‘thrive’ regardless
The British Overseas Territory is currently negotiating with Madrid to secure a post-Brexit treaty separate to a trade deal secured between the UK and EU. The deal, which both sides are aiming to secure by New Year’s Eve, would allow for the easy flow of people and goods across the border from Spain which underpins the economy of The Rock.
For Gibraltar, securing a treaty is seen as important because 15,000 people cross into Gibraltar from Spain every day to work as well as being heavily reliant on imports from the EU.
Without an agreement in place, the movement of goods between Gibraltar and Spain will be subject to customs procedures from January 1st which could bring unwanted economic consequences.
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Twitter: “The days are getting longer but our time is getting shorter.
He added: “For us… the clock is still ticking” making clear he was “optimistic that we will be able to finalise that agreement.”
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Whitehall sources close to the Brexit trade negotiations told Express.co.uk the UK Government remained “hopeful” a deal could be secured with Spain over Gibraltar, adding: “We are hoping for a breakthrough.”
Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain said in a statement: “Spain and the United Kingdom are continuing dialogue to reach an accord on Gibraltar.”
But Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya expressed a more cautious approach and warned The Rock would become an EU external border “with all of its consequences” if a deal is not secured.
Ms González Laya made clear, however: “We prefer a deal and will work until the last minute to get a deal on Gibraltar.”
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Mr Picardo has long made clear he wants to follow a “different path from the UK and join the European customs union or even the Schengen Area, which has abolished border controls for its members.”
Madrid’s El País newspaper claims such a Schengen style deal is in the final stages of negotiation.
Spain ceded Gibraltar, a rocky enclave near its southern tip, to Britain in 1713 after a war, but claims sovereignty over it.
However, Madrid has agreed to put the issue of its sovereignty claim to one side, for now, to focus on the opportunity to keep the border with Gibraltar open.
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In a 2002 referendum, 99 percent of Gibraltarians rejected any idea of Britain sharing sovereignty with Spain.
But in 2016, nearly 96 percent of voters in Gibraltar backed staying in the EU, while in Britain proper the referendum vote was 52-48 percent in favour of leaving the bloc.
Talks between both sides will continue today.
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