Spain and Britain on Monday signed a fiscal treaty on Gibraltar as Brexit nears to fight tax fraud and money laundering via the British overseas territory. Hailed as massively significant by Gibraltar's leader, Fabian Picardo, it was signed separately by Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell and David Lidington, Prime Minister Theresa May's effective deputy.
The best Brexit outcome for Gibraltar would be for the UK to revoke Article 50 and remain in the European Union, the Gibraltar Government said on Tuesday. No.6 Convent Place was reacting after Prime Minister Theresa May accepted for the first time that the UK may not leave the European Union on March 29, offering MPs a chance to vote to delay Brexit if her deal is rejected again next month.
In its proposal for post-Brexit, ‘visa-free travel’ the European Council on Friday has described Gibraltar as a “colony of the British Crown.” HM Government of Gibraltar is grateful to the Prime Minister for her comment that such a description is “completely unacceptable.”
Gibraltar has intensified its contact on Brexit with senior United Kingdom parliamentarians both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in order to put across the position of Gibraltar. The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia took advantage of their visit to London last week to meet opinion-formers on the Remain and the Leave sides of the argument.
The Gibraltar Government would urge the UK to “stop Brexit completely” if MPs vote against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement next week, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said. Speaking to GBC after returning to Gibraltar from London, Picardo highlighted two important developments this week which he said had opened up new possibilities as the UK Parliament grapples with the Brexit divorce deal this week.
After the end of the European Council meeting, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union, Ambassador Sir Tim Barrow, has written to the Secretaries General of the Council and Commission of the European Union.
The Government has noted the comments about Gibraltar made by the Foreign Minister of Spain this morning following a meeting of the General Affairs Council of the European Union.
The Chief Minister has immediately been in touch with the Prime Minister’s office in Downing Street.
Spain has said it will not agree to the draft Brexit withdrawal deal without clarity over how talks on the future status of Gibraltar should be handled. Foreign minister Josep Borrell insisted that talks about the territory were “separate negotiations”.
The proposed Withdrawal Agreement published on Wednesday by the United Kingdom and European Union makes it clear that its terms, including the transitional period, will apply to Gibraltar. According to a release from the Gibraltar government “this was the number one priority of the Cabinet and of the Government and it has been achieved. It means that Gibraltar will not crash out of the European Union in March 2019 and that things will largely remain as they are until the end of 2020”.
Gibraltar will step up its contingency planning as from January 1, 2019, if there is no certainty of a Withdrawal Agreement and implementation period by that date, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told an influential House of Lords select committee. Addressing the EU Select Committee, he also signaled his hope that Gibraltar, the UK and Spain could salvage elements of the Gibraltar negotiations even in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit between the UK and the EU.