Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo underlined on Wednesday the importance of remaining in a reformed European Union, stronger, safer and better off, both for the UK and Gibraltar. The joint statement comes ahead of the June 26 Brexit vote, which for Overseas Territories a 'Leave' victory could be 'catastrophic', according to statements from Gibraltar and Falklands' representatives
Hammond, the first foreign secretary to visit Gibraltar since 2009, spent a full day of talks in the Rock and at the end of his visit the strong release reaffirmed the importance of remaining in the European Union, and reiterated UK's commitment to BOT's self determination, freely and democratically expressed, as well as the promise not to enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.
Follows the joint statement:
Today we reaffirmed the strong and enduring relationship between the UK and Gibraltar – and recognized Gibraltar’s contribution to the diverse British family. We jointly paid tribute to the enduring Gibraltarian ambition and spirit, which has built a modern, multicultural and environmentally conscious society on the Mediterranean, proud to be both Gibraltarian and British.
We celebrated the 90th birthday of Her Majesty The Queen and noted the steadfast loyalty of the people of Gibraltar to their sovereign.
This ambition and spirit has turned Gibraltar into a success story across a number of areas. Gibraltar is increasingly a cultural centre; its high-tech economy is booming and its finance centre providing a world-class, well-regulated gateway to the European Union. Its new University will help spread the seed of learning across the entire region.
We discussed the large number of development projects currently underway, funded largely by the private sector, and how these will assist in the further growth of Gibraltar’s GDP and the continued diversification of the Gibraltar economy, in particular the development of a new marina, commercial and residential units on the eastside.
We welcomed Gibraltar’s lead on tax transparency and highlighted the example it could provide to other jurisdictions around the globe.
We agreed that remaining in a reformed European Union would ensure both Gibraltar and the UK were stronger, safer and better off. It would give Gibraltar and Gibraltarians the best possible chance to continue building their remarkable success story.
We recognized the vital importance of the EU referendum to Gibraltar and called on all those residents of Gibraltar eligible to vote to have their say in this historic decision.
We recalled the UK’s continued commitment to stand by Gibraltar, in particular the UK’s commitment that it would never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes, nor would it enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.
We also discussed the continued strategic importance of Gibraltar and the UK’s continued commitment to doing everything necessary to defend Gibraltar’s sovereignty and security. We paid tribute to the men and women of the British Armed Forces who work day-in-day out to achieve these aims displaying their world-class professionalism. We agreed that Gibraltar would continue to have an important role to play in delivering the wider vision set out in the UK’s Strategic Defense and Security Review.
We also paid tribute to the hard-working officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police, Gibraltar Defence Police, HM Customs Gibraltar and all other agencies who contribute to keeping Gibraltar safe, and called for increased levels of cooperation with Spanish colleagues in this area.
Finally, we underlined both the UK’s and Gibraltar’s ultimate desire to return to the Trilateral Forum for Dialogue with Spain as soon as possible.
The UK and Gibraltar will continue to stand by together as we move forward to face the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century”.