The Gibraltar Parliament unanimously passed legislation to enable Gibraltar to vote in the European election in May should this become necessary because of delays to Brexit. The parliament approved an amendment to primary legislation to ensure the electoral register for the European Union election is ready despite the short window of time available.
The development came as Theresa May faced resistance over her request to the European Union for Brexit to be delayed potentially until June 30, with Brussels expected to insist on a longer extension.
The Prime Minister wrote to European Council president Donald Tusk requesting the delay, with an option to leave earlier if she can get a Brexit deal through Parliament.
Mrs May said she will seek to secure ratification of the deal before European elections on May 23, but will make “responsible preparations” for the UK to take part in the polls if that does not prove possible.
But cross-party talks with Labour appear to have stalled, with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer saying it was “disappointing” that Mrs. May was refusing to consider changes to the terms of her deal.
The request for an extension will be considered at an emergency EU summit on April 10, where it requires the unanimous agreement of the leaders of the remaining 27 member states.
Mr. Tusk is recommending a longer postponement of one year, with a break clause in the case of earlier ratification, in a so-called “flextension” deal.
On Sunday Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo took a call from Prime Minister Theresa May and maintained a “friendly and positive” conversation on the latest Brexit developments, and on the future relationship with the EU.
The Chief Minister set out his government’s views on the extension of time being sought and the negotiation of the future relation between the UK and the EU, and received assurances from the Prime Minister on her continued support for Gibraltar.
Mr Picardo and the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, travel to London on Monday with officials to take part in a further JMC on Gibraltar’s exit from the EU, which will allow for detailed discussion of Gibraltar-specific issues in this context.
“I was very pleased to be able to speak directly with the Prime Minister about the Gibraltar issues that concern us in respect of the developments we are seeing around the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union,” Mr. Picardo said.
“Mrs. May was, as ever, wholly supportive of Gibraltar and understanding of the matters which is raised with her. She is a staunch and reliable friend of Gibraltar.”
The prospect of participating in the EU election means parliamentary staff and civil servants in Gibraltar are already engaged in discrete contact with UK counterparts in order to prepare for the vote on May 23-26 should it become necessary.