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Chief minister addresses Select Committee about Brexit impact

Fabian Picardo (centre) and Dr Joseph Garcia with Theresa May
Fabian Picardo (centre) and Dr Joseph Garcia with Theresa May / SUR
  • Fabian Picardo spent about two hours discussing Gibraltar and Brexit and described Spain's approach as "predatory"

Chief minister Fabian Picardo appeared before the House of Commons Select Committee on Exiting the European Union on Wednesday to discuss a number of issues regarding Gibraltar and the impact of Brexit.

He was quick to refute recent claims from Spanish politicians that the offer of joint sovereignty, so that Gibraltar could continue to be part of the EU and have access to the single market once Britain has left, was 'generous'.

"This is the generosity of the predator that thinks its prey is finally prone and it's going to take the price it's been seeking to extract for the past years," he told the committee. "Neither the people of the United Kingdom nor the people of Gibraltar are a prey that is on its knees, seeking any generous offer from the people of Spain. Gibraltar will pay any price, bear any burden and meet any hardship in the context of ensuring that we have a future that is bright and exclusively British post Brexit."

The chief minister's address to the Select Committee was praised by many UK politicians, including Michael Gove, who tweeted that Mr Picardo was "a very impressive witness at DExEU select committee - articulated positive post Brexit vision."

Spain's foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis Quecedo, however, has played down the importance of the joint sovereignty issue in Brexit negotiations, in a noticeably softer approach than that of his predecessor José Manuel García-Margallo.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Sr Dastis said that if Gibraltar wants to make a life outside the EU, it was perfectly free to do so, and that he did not believe that Spain will use sovereignty over Gibraltar to create a "stumbling block" during the Brexit negotiations.