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May 28, 2020

Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar is concerned at the throw-away line in an interview this morning on Cadena Ser by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, Ms Gonzalez Laya, in which she referred to ‘agreeing a new status for Gibraltar between Spain and the United Kingdom’.

The Chief Minister of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said: “Ms Gonzalez Laya has made many positive references in recent months to the style, manner and tenor of the negotiations to come.  She has taken a position which has not been hostile to Gibraltar.  That has been very welcome by my Government.  Her reference today in a throw-away line, as she enumerated a list of matters which she has in her pending in-tray as Minister, came alongside speculation that she might move on to a senior role in the World Trade Organisation.  It was not a policy position being expressed in answer to question on Gibraltar.  Nonetheless, it must be clear that Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar will not leave unanswered any suggestion, however tangential, that the ‘status of Gibraltar’ can be negotiated ‘for Gibraltar’ by any parties other than by the Government of Gibraltar.  It is certainly unacceptable to Gibraltar to suggest that any such ‘negotiation’ could be ‘between Spain and the United Kingdom’.

I am very clear in wanting to be proactive and positive in the Brexit negotiations and in ensuring that we reach new arrangements to preserve and enhance mobility as much as possible and, in that way, secure the prosperity of Gibraltar and the whole region around us.  But let us be very clear about one thing: I will be negotiating for Gibraltar.  No one else is democratically empowered to do so and no one else can agree anything for the people of Gibraltar with any democratic credibility.   Proposing the return of old style bilateralism between Britain and Spain in respect of Gibraltar in relation to the negotiations of the deals to be done for the post-Brexit future is an antidote to democratic legitimacy and it will not be a persuasive tool in the discussions to come.”