Brexit and Gibraltar – will the Rock stay strong in the aftermath of Brexit?
- January 23, 2017
- Posted by: Tyler Hanley
- Category: Uncategorized
Issue of the Day
Last week the political discussion was devoted to the single market, and the Prime Minister’s confirmation that she intends us to leave it. But there was little mention of a small British territory which depends on the single market – in particular the free movement of services and people – to guarantee its livelihood. Gibraltar is both resolutely British and pro-EU. However, its future is at risk of compromise unless its voice is heard.
On 25 January we will be launching a joint report with Open Britain that examines the implications of Brexit for Gibraltar with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
So, how does Gibraltar’s future look post-referendum, and can the Government deliver on the territory’s priorities?
Gibraltar is a key UK territory whose sovereignty and economy would be placed at risk in the event of a hard Brexit. It holds a unique position, both within the EU but out of the Customs Union, meaning that it has free movement of people, services and capital within the EU, but not of goods.
As its economy is largely service based, Gibraltar would be detrimentally affected by the imposition of border controls, particularly as 12,000 people commute across the Spanish border every day. As such, the UK government should ensure that Gibraltar is exempt from any limitation to the free movement of people. Given its service-based economy, it is also essential for Gibraltar to continue to participate in the Single Market. Any separation from Gibraltar’s main trading bloc would be a significant blow to the territory’s economy.
Not only should the territory’s enthusiasm for staying in the EU be respected, but so too must its desire to remain a full territory of the UK, separate from Spain. Essential to this is a promise from the UK government that it will not agree to anything that would compromise Gibraltar’s sovereignty or in any way treat the territory as collateral damage in negotiations. Consultation and representation during talks would ensure that the territory’s unique position is not compromised without consent.
With around half of its entire workforce crossing the border to Spain each day, an economy dominated by the service sector and the EU as its largest market, it is perhaps little surprise that Gibraltar voted 96% in favour of Remain.
Like other devolved UK administrations, Gibraltar’s voice must be heard, and the UK government must advocate for the territory’s priorities. The Rock has been resolutely British for centuries. The Government must now deliver to ensure that the interests of Gibraltar are protected during the upcoming negotiations.