I am British by birth, European by conviction, Gibraltarian by choice, and hungry for a fairer, more progressive and inclusive Gibraltar, a Gibraltar that is meritocratic, forward-thinking, enterprising, outward-looking, sustainable and confident.
What entitles a relative newcomer to represent the people of Gibraltar? Friends, colleagues and prospective constituents told me the same thing. Someone who has made Gibraltar her home, voted in its elections, contributed to its economic well-being and who fervently wants to make a difference to the lives of the people of Gibraltar has a duty to do so.
I have been involved in Gibraltar since 2014. My work at the Financial Services Commission, architecting Gibraltar’s pioneering legal and regulatory framework for distributed ledger technology, led to new technology businesses starting-up in Gibraltar and positioned it at the forefront of global standards in consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It also led me to move permanently to the place I now regard home. Gibraltar welcomed me with open arms. Now is the time for this soon-to-retire great-grandmother to give something back.
After a 48-year technology career working in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, my recent work has been in regulatory affairs, providing public policy advice to politicians and officials in the UK, EU and elsewhere. I sit as a technical expert on several international bodies and have represented Gibraltar at international meetings.
Gibraltar faces imminent challenges. The development of Gibraltar’s financial services and online gambling sectors has served us well for a quarter of a century. Our low taxes have attracted wealth from abroad. But that business model is under threat. Brexit changes everything. A no-deal Brexit – still a possibility, albeit remote - represents the very worst of all scenarios. Our financial services and gambling firms face being unable to do business in the EU. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to slash UK corporation tax rates, effectively competing with us. We can no longer expect these vital sectors to remain the lifeblood of our economy.
Gibraltar needs a new economic strategy: a forward-looking 10-year plan that reduces financial dependency on the UK and enables us to stand on our own feet by building an economy that: creates value rather than merely extracts it, encourages enterprise, rewards talent, harnesses our exceptional heritage and natural resources, brings much-needed foreign exchange, is sustainable, and results in prosperity for all rather than a few.
In a rapidly changing world driven by software and globalisation, we need to start making stuff, not just providing services.