Gibraltar’s presence in an increasingly interconnected world means it will not be isolated as a result of Brexit, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said on Spanish television, even as he described the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union as “madness”.
Speaking on Canal Sur, Andalucia’s regional television channel, Picardo also welcomed the Spanish Government’s more diplomatic approach towards Gibraltar since the departure of Jose Manuel García-Margallo from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Madrid.
García-Margallo’s successor, the career diplomat Alfonso Dastis, had adopted a less abrasive discourse when talking publicly about the Rock, compared to the tough, inflexible language preferred by his predecessor.
Picardo underlined Dastis’ publicly-stated desire to maintain border fluidity after Brexit and his pledge to avoid making Gibraltar a central issue in the Brexit talks.
“It’s a good starting point,” the Chief Minister said, later adding: “I don’t see in Mr Dastis any desire to return to 1969 [the year Franco closed the border].”
During a wide-ranging interview on a breakfast news show, the Chief Minister said that even though Gibraltarians had voted to remain in the EU, they respected the democratic outcome of the UK’s referendum last year, even if they did not agree with it.
But pressed by the interviewer, Picardo left little doubt as to his personal view of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
“It’s madness, it’s not a progressive step that looks to the future, it looks to the past” he said.
The Chief Minister defended Gibraltar’s record of fiscal transparency and adherence to international regulatory rules and standards, insisting that Gibraltar remains ready to sign a bilateral tax information exchange agreement with Spain.
“It’s only Spain that calls us a tax haven,” he said.
Picardo was asked for his views on the Catalonia crisis but declined to be drawn on the issue.