AS Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley doesn’t just exist to speak to British residents and visitors but also to ensure that he is able to consolidate Britain’s relationship with the whole of Spain.
On Monday November 28, the Ambassador made a journey to Malaga City to speak to representatives of both local government and Spanish businessmen about the future as far as commercial relationships between the two countries are concerned.
Mr Manley made it clear that the government he represents has a great deal of admiration for Andalucia, its businesses and its people and wants to ensure that this relationship continues to grow.
This is clearly important to the economy of Andalucia which prompted both the mayor of Malaga Francisco de la Torre and Junta de Andalucia minister of economy and knowledge Antonio Ramirez de Arellano Lopez to attend the meeting and to speak about their belief in the friendship with Britain.
The UK is the fifth most important destination for Andalucian exports with 500 regular exporters and a further 600 occasional exporters to Britain whilst 2.4 million British tourists visited the area in 2015, accounting for a quarter of all tourists and this is likely to continue especially as the pound recovers against the euro.
In addition to the net income to Andalucia which is worth so much, it is estimated that 80,000 British nationals are resident in the area which represents some 13 per cent of foreign residents and they in turn bring wealth into the community in which they live and often work.
As Gibraltar is surrounded by Andalucia and employs more than 10,000 Andalucians from the local area, a question was raised about the situation with regards to Gibraltar and Brexit. Mr Manley acknowledged that Gibraltar has a very close relationship with Andalucia and that this would have to be taken into account during future negotiations.
There is little doubt that Mr Manley gave much comfort to those attending the meeting and that his Spanish guests still value the importance of Britain as a trading partner despite the Brexit result.