All are agreed Brexit will be bad for Gibraltar – at least in the short and medium terms. What is unknown is what kind of bad and how bad. Whatever Brexit throws at us, we will confront it in the spirit of the values of community, solidarity and fraternity that has characterised our people.
The Government of Gibraltar has so far flip-flopped between supporting Theresa May's deal, standing in support of staunch Brexiteers, and putting out timid statements in support of remain. Together Gibraltar believes this is neither positive for Gibraltar nor conducive to the resolution of this crisis in the long term. A Together Gibraltar government would stand firmly in support of the revocation of Article 50 and express our unequivocal preference for any future deal to be decided in a referendum with an option to remain.
Whether we leave the EU on 31 October or next year, Together Gibraltar’s overriding objective is to mitigate the effects of Brexit on the lives or ordinary people. Even if Article 50 is revoked, the damage already sustained by our economy from the long period of uncertainty will need to be carefully and painstakingly repaired. Normalising lives will be our number one priority from 18th October.
There is a very little information available for the people of Gibraltar and businesses, especially small businesses, to adequately prepare for Brexit. People do not know what to expect in just a few short weeks’ time.
Together Gibraltar thanks the present Government of Gibraltar for following our suggestion of opening a Brexit advice centre in town. However, much more is needed to help people properly prepare for Brexit.
Together Gibraltar will devote its first week in power assessing Gibraltar’s readiness and initiating measures to shore up people’s ability to withstand the adverse effects of Brexit. We will immediately establish a Communications Task Force to start work on filling the information void left by the outgoing government. In addition to the Brexit advice centre, we will establish a 24/7 phone enquiry service. Our priority will be keeping the public fully informed.
Free frontier flow
Delays and congestion are to be expected at the frontier with our nearest neighbour. Disruption to flights and the inward flow of goods are similarly anticipated.
We will provide Brexit support at all Gibraltar’s frontier crossings and at the airport and port to assist travellers, importers and exporters. We will immediately work with local authorities in La Linea to provide liaison facilities on the Spanish side in order to help alleviate any problems encountered there. This will be especially relevant in the event of extended frontier delays which will affect tourists, residents and the 15,000 workers who cross daily and help Gibraltar’s vibrant economy thrive.
Any government’s ability to deal with events as they unfold is paramount. We will implement real-time monitoring, conducted from a 24-hour situation room with a direct and immediate channel of communication to the minister responsible for Brexit and, if required, to all ministers. We will implement a daily reporting and briefing cycle involving the whole of government. These measures will remain in place until disruption to everyday lives is over. We will seek active co-operation and engagement from all branches of government and political stakeholders, including members of the Opposition.
We will also continue with preparations at the port to establish guarantees that supplies will get to Gibraltar in the case of a complete standstill via alternative routes.
Relationship with the UK
Gibraltar has arrangements in place to cement its trading links with the UK. The practical application of these arrangements will necessitate close cooperation with the authorities in the UK.
Building on a shadow network of relationships in the UK developed by Together Gibraltar over several months and years, we are well placed to bring about smooth and effective transition from the outgoing government to a Together Gibraltar government. Years of public policy work in Westminster, the City of London and Brussels conducted by members of the TG team will be brought to bear on securing the best possible co-operation and communication with these centres of power.