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Chief Minister’s New Year’s Message 2024 - 7/2024

January 09, 2024

Good evening


I hope you have all had a peaceful and restful Christmas and New Year break.


2023 was a challenging year in many respects.


And so, as we all took the quieter days of the Christmas break to rest and recover, I reflected on the many reasons why I, and so many of you, have cause to give thanks.


The first thing I am grateful for is that we have been insulated from the worst ravages of 2023.


When we turn on the international news, it is hard to avoid the sense that the world is perhaps the most volatile and unforgiving that it has been for a very long time.


The conflict in the Middle East continues, leaving us with horrific and lamentable images from all sides.


In Ukraine, the war continues also, with no imminent end in sight.


Inflation stemming from that conflict has made everything much more expensive.


More generally, the lingering consequences of the pandemic continue, although we are now starting to see an economic recovery at last.


And mortgage rates, which rose so steeply, are now finally starting to come down. 


But Gibraltar is not immune from such things:


The financial impact of high inflation since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine has been felt deeply in this community too.


As interest rates have risen, so too have the costs associated with our everyday lives. 


If you have a mortgage, the Government helped you by agreeing to cap mortgage interest rates at the Gibraltar International Bank.


The increases in the costs of fuel and of cooking and heating homes has gone up by well over 100% in parts of Europe.


Here we also capped the increases in electricity costs at 8% in Financial Year 22/23 and with no increase at all in 23/24.


The cost of energy, the cost of paying for our homes, and of servicing our debt. 


All of those things have risen and for reasons completely beyond the control of anyone in this community.


But in Gibraltar, your Government has helped by capping these costs for you.


That has meant more cost to Government.


But I defend that as the right thing to do to insulate you and your family from the worst effects of actions and decisions being taken elsewhere.


The potential social impact that conflicts elsewhere in the world might also have in disrupting the Gibraltarian multicultural way of life cannot be ignored either. 


It is up to every one of us to do what we can to protect, cherish and ‘treasure’ that mutual, multicultural respect.




Our nation is at peace.


Our families are safe.


And our children have enjoyed the benefits of a secure Christmas environment.


Just these basic things cannot be taken for granted by many in the wider world around us.


What’s more, most Gibraltarian families will have enjoyed another bountiful celebration.


And even those who do not have a plentiful home have been able to count on support the likes of which is simply unimaginable in the wider world.


We are blessed with prosperity and plenty.


We are blessed with safety and security.


We are, simply, blessed in so many ways.


For this, I am grateful.


I am concerned, however, that we have enjoyed this prosperity and safety for so long that many of us might take it for granted.


We could be forgiven for thinking that that’s just the way things are.


That it is just normal.


But THAT would be a huge MISTAKE.


What we have today is built on successive administrations and the private sector working together to deliver the best outcomes for Gibraltar.


What we have today, we have through vision, ingenuity and sheer hard work.


What we have today, we have made for ourselves.


We have had the foresight to see opportunities coming down the line and we have worked to take advantage of them.


We have also dealt with adversity by always reinventing ourselves, by never giving up, and by always finding a way.


Make no mistake:


Brexit was one such case of undoubted adversity.




Brexit put Gibraltar on the back foot.


And we have worked HARD to push back against the force of this adversity.


SO LET ME BE CLEAR, in case I haven’t already been clear enough.


We would not be sat at these treaty negotiations in the absence of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.


BUT TO REMINISCE ABOUT WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN would be to waste your time.


And it is PURE FANTASY for anyone in Gibraltar to suggest that they could have successfully concluded these negotiations sooner.


It is PURE FANTASY for anyone to suggest to you, with a straight face, that they would have banged down the doors to the European Commission and La Moncloa, and succeeded in demanding solutions that were good for Gibraltar.


Anyone can stand on a soap box and pretend they could have done better than we have.


But in the context of this complex, sophisticated, ongoing discussion between parties to a serious negotiation about our access to the EU, what good would that do?


And yet, because of our hard work and diligence, and in close partnership with the UK, we are advancing this difficult and delicate negotiation to a successful conclusion.


And, most importantly, WE are the decision makers when it comes to all aspects of the negotiation that relate to Gibraltar, as our Constitution provides for.


We remain fully committed to the process of agreeing a Treaty that will govern our future relationship with the EU.


I believe we are now really, almost there.


I will see this through to the end. 


And I will bring back a safe and secure Treaty.




I have purposely avoided setting any kind of time limits on these discussions which have consumed me for the last two years of my life.


To avoid damaging our negotiating position, I have not set what I judge to be unhelpful limits on the time for reaching agreement.


And I won’t set them today either.


What I can say, though, is that 2024 is the year when we will finally make the determination on whether a deal can be done or not. 


In fact, I believe that in the first half of 2024 the question of Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU will be resolved.


So we have to be ready to deal with any pressures that may come as we work through the end game of this negotiation.


Patience and stoic calm will be our only allies as we work through this period.


But, with the UK on our side, we will get to the right conclusion.


Of course, there are parts of the discussion with the EU and with Spain that may cause us discomfort.


But we cannot scupper the future of our children for the sake of short-term political advantage.


So, let me assure you.


Let me be crystal clear.


There will not be any concessions on the exclusively British sovereignty, jurisdiction or control of Gibraltar or on any of the components thereof.


There will be those in Gibraltar who will, for the sake of their own political gain, try to call out concessions on sovereignty where there will be none. 


I would have walked away from a treaty which provides for any such concessions.


Everyone round the table is in no doubt about that.


I want to say it one more time tonight.


I GUARANTEE you that I will bring back a safe and secure Treaty for Gibraltar.


Because if it is not safe and secure, I WILL NOT BRING BACK A TREATY AT ALL


I will not do it.


The GSLP Liberal Government I lead will not do it.


And I know you would not accept it.


I am grateful, finally, also for the continuing privilege of being able to address you as Chief Minister. 


Being able to do this makes me proud.


Being able to do this reinforces in my mind the seriousness of the responsibility that I hold in the office of Chief Minister.


Being able to do this only makes me stronger and more committed to doing what is best for this wonderful place that we call home and that we love.


I know that, in many ways, much of what I have spoken about tonight has touched upon things that you and I have had to deal with for far longer than you or I would have wanted to.


One way in which it is different however, is that I am today surrounded by the new team you voted into office in October last year.


I am genuinely excited by all the hard work that new team is putting into delivering for Gibraltar. 


They have been working hard on delivering on our manifesto.


A manifesto that will deliver another massive step forward in healthcare.


Another great step forward in our children’s education.


And a final step forward to clear the housing waiting list as we know it, once and for all.


These are your priorities, and they are also therefore OUR priorities.


They are my priorities too for my last term as your leader.


As I focus on the negotiations, I know my team continues to work to deliver on that manifesto.


They really are “getting the job done”.


We are not resting on our laurels.


And neither must you.


We are continuing to work to our strengths.


And I urge you to do the same throughout this year.


For now, on behalf of my beloved children, Sebastian, Oliver, Valentina and myself, I wish you all and our nation much good health and prosperity for the twelve months ahead.


Happy New Year.


And goodnight.