Dr Joseph García, deputy chief minister and leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party, attended the annual conference of the UK Liberal Party in Bournemouth this week and participated in a panel discussion on Brexit and its effects on the UK’s three land borders: those between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar and Spain, and the sovereign bases and the Republic of Cyprus. Also on the panel were former Northern Ireland justice minister David Ford MLA, and Alastair Carmichael MP.
Dr García explained that all three land borders present unique challenges. There are marked differences, for example, between Gibraltar, which is already outside the customs union and where free movement of goods has never applied, and Northern Ireland, where the existence of the common travel area means that the debate is about movements of goods rather than people. In Gibraltar, he said, the essence of the discussion is about movement of people, who cross the border for a variety of reasons. Every day 13,000 people come into Gibraltar from Spain to work, and nearly ten million tourists cross the border every year.
The deputy chief minister insisted that this free land access for residents, workers and tourists must continue, and said it would have no impact on the UK itself because, unlike N. Ireland, there are immigration controls between the UK and Gibraltar.
“Gibraltar did not want Brexit and did not vote for it,” he said. “This makes it all the more important to ensure that a sensible, orderly and well-managed Brexit resolves any border challenges that present themselves.”