The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce welcomes the clarity that has emerged this week in respect of the Brexit debate following a speech given this week by Theresa May on the subject at Lancaster House in London.
A Chamber spokesman explained that “much of Theresa May’s description of the UK in her Brexit speech reflects the reality in Gibraltar in that, like the UK, Gibraltar is internationalist in its outlook, is ethnically very diverse and takes much of its strength as a nation from this very diversity. We agree with Mrs May’s appeal to the EU to respect Europe’s wide cultural differences as well as her plea to the EU to resist the urge to bend towards uniformity as opposed to flexibility.”
The Prime Minister’s speech gave a greater degree of certainty on the UK’s approach to leaving the EU given her categorical assertion that Britain is leaving the EU; it is not leaving Europe.
The Prime Minister’s comments on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are encouraging. The Chamber remains confident that the UK will also work to deliver a practical solution to ensure that the many thousands of EU citizens who live in Spain and cross the frontier to work in Gibraltar each day can continue to do so after the Brexit is concluded. There is no justifiable reason for these people to lose their jobs just because Gibraltar is no longer in the EU.
In this context, the Chamber is cautiously encouraged too by comments recently made by the Spanish Foreign Minister, Mr Alfonso Dastis Quecedo, acknowledging that there will ‘be life after Brexit’ for Gibraltar. The Chamber is hopeful, despite the stated continuity in respect of Spain’s fundamental policy vis-à-vis Gibraltar, that Mr Dastis Quecedo’s comments herald the possibility that open hostility and the imposition of unreasonable controls at the border designed to inflict economic and political pain in Gibraltar are devices of times gone by and that good neighbourly relations can prevail, even across an EU/non-EU border post 1 April 2019.
Finally, the Chamber notes with some relief the announcement by the British Prime Minister of a transitional phase designed to give businesses in Britain, and therefore Gibraltar, time to adjust to the new relationship. The Chamber further notes that the Secretary of State for Departing the European Union, Mr David Davis MP, said in the days after the PM’s speech that this transitional phase would be no longer than two years. “Two years is certainly better than nothing – we will endeavour to assist our members to make all the relevant adjustments as soon as possible to prepare our community in the best way possible to embrace our new reality outside the EU”, explained the Chamber spokesman.
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