THE deputy chief minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, told the plenary session of the UK Liberal Democrats meeting in Brighton that there is no conflict between being British and being European.
Dr Garcia was given special permission to address the conference during the debate on a Policy Motion on Britain and the European Union. He explained, to warm applause from the floor that Gibraltar had voted 67 per cent in favour of the Liberal Democrats, the party that he represents during the last European elections and how 96 per cent had voted to remain in the European Union.
He said that the Policy Motion referred to the risks to Gibraltar posed by Brexit. He declared that these risks were potentially very significant and very real. Dr Garcia said that freedom of movement was important to Gibraltar and made the point that 12,000 people crossed the border to and from Spain in order to work in Gibraltar. This represented half of the local labour force and referred to the importance of access to the EU Single Market.
In addition, Dr Garcia outlined the threats against Gibraltar made by Spain in relation to the border and also the attempted blackmail in relation to joint-sovereignty. He said that joint-sovereignty had been rejected nearly unanimously in a referendum held in 2002.
“There is no place more pro-British or more patriotic than Gibraltar, and we are a shining example of how you can be British and European at the same time. There is no conflict between the two,” he explained.
The intervention on the Policy Motion was very well received with a standing ovation by the floor and it was followed by other speakers including the former UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, who is now the party’s Brexit spokesman.