One key concern Gibraltarians have about Brexit negotiations is sovereignty, and whether Britain will offer the Rock to Spain in order to get a better deal. With plans still being kept very vague by the British government at this early time, many fear it is a strong possibility.
But now the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, has reassured Gibraltarians that they will remain under British sovereignty.
Speaking to Sky News, Picardo made it clear that the Rock and its 30,000 inhabitants will not become the “victims of Brexit”, strongly opposing any notion that the territory, which has belonged to Britain since 1713, will be abandoned by the UK during negotiations.
Picardo’s confidence came from having received “cast-iron assurances” from the UK’s Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis, that any trade deals made between the EU and the UK during talks would keep Gibraltar’s best interests in mind.
Picardo’s comments came just a few days after the King of Spain, Felipe VI, visited Westminster and, in a speech at the Palace of Westminster addressing the UK government, announced he wished for a new dialogue to start between the UK and Spain regarding “new arrangements” for Gibraltar.
The Rock’s sovereignty has always been seen to be an issue between Spain and the UK and it’s believed by many that Spain will always look for an opportunity to reclaim it. In his speech, King Felipe mentioned past “estrangements, rivalries and disputes”, but added that he was certain both countries could overcome their differences when it came to Gibraltar and that he hoped Brexit negotiations could lead to “arrangements that are acceptable to all involved”.
When asked by a Sky News presenter about the Spanish Monarch’s remarks, Picardo said that while there would have to be new arrangements to ensure continued fluid movement over the Gibraltar-Spain border (a large portion of Gibraltar’s workforce crosses the border from Spain, so if Brexit leads to any restrictions on border crossing, it could have disastrous results), nothing would be put in place to affect sovereignty:
The Rock “is going to remain 100% British”, the Chief Minister said. He reiterated that neither the Gibraltar government nor its citizens had any “desire to form part of Spain or to come under Spanish sovereignty in any shape or form”.
However, a clause included in the EU’s guidelines for Brexit negotiations – clause 24 – has raised the alarm for many Gibraltarians. The clause gives Spain the power to prevent any deal between the UK and the EU from also applying to Gibraltar. But Picardo was steadfast that the Gibraltar government would not stand for any unfairness, saying that Gibraltarians won’t accept the EU Council creating new rights for Spain and that “the British government is on record as saying that they won’t do a trade deal that excludes Gibraltar if it’s relevant to Gibraltar.”
“If we are not included because Spain and therefore the EU have managed to exclude us, that will mean failure on the part of the British negotiating team. And I bet on success, not on failure,” he added.
Keeping Gibraltar under British control would be honouring two previous sovereignty referendums held by the Rock – one in 1967 and one in 2002. The results of both referendums were conclusive. The result of the first saw 99.64% of Gibraltarians wanting their home to remain under wholly British rule, while the second saw 98.48% voting for the same. These were figures that Picardo drew upon during the interview. He said that if those involved are going to respect the UK’s EU referendum result, then the outcomes of the two Gibraltar sovereignty referendums must be given similar credence.
It’s still not known for sure what effect Brexit will have on the Rock and what problems it will cause for expats looking for Gibraltar wealth management services. For instance, if the UK leaves the EEA, this means Gibraltar will also leave, which could cause some difficulties for those hoping to transfer their pension into a QROPS based in Gibraltar.
Issues like this are why, when it comes to your finances, it helps to have a considerable amount of forward planning in place. Contacting a Blacktower adviser is an effective way of making sure your money is well-prepared for whatever the future has in store.