THE Government of Gibraltar has issued a statement on its Deputy Chief Minister’s comments about the status of Spanish and European nationals there after Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
The authority said some media reports had “misinterpreted” statements made to them. Among these was a suggestion that it would rescind on the rights of EU citizens if the territory was excluded from transitional arrangements after Britain leaves the bloc.
“The position of the Government of Gibraltar is that this could be a potential unwanted side-effect of the exclusion of Gibraltar from withdrawal and transitional periods,” the statement said.
“Our position, as also repeatedly stated by the Government of the United Kingdom, is that Gibraltar should be included in the withdrawal, transition and future arrangements.”
The statement added that if the territory were included in such arrangements there would be no risk of EU citizens’ rights being taken away.
Dr Joseph Garcia, Gibraltar’s Deputy Chief Minister, said he was optimistic the attitude of all parties was to ensure foreign citizens’ rights would not be adversely affected by Brexit.
“It is an area of deep common ground between us and it is our common responsibility,” he said.
The statement follows reports in some media, including in this newspaper, that Garcia had previously said Gibraltar’s government would no longer have to guarantee the rights of EU citizens there.
Garcia had also said it was the position of the authority that Clause 24 of the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement was illegal.
The authority said the Clause gave Spain an effective veto over Gibraltar’s status in post-Brexit arrangements.
“Our position is that if Spain exercises a veto under that clause, we will challenge it in court, whatever that may do to the whole of Brexit,” Garcia said.