Deputy chief minister reveals details of "bilateral dialogue with Spain"

Joseph Garcia and Vince Cable at the Liberal conference.
Joseph Garcia and Vince Cable at the Liberal conference. / SUR
  • Gibraltar has been holding bilateral talks with Spain over local issues, but Picardo insists that his government's red lines will not be crossed

It was reported this week that the Gibraltar government has been holding direct talks with Spain about Brexit and their relationship after Britain leaves the European Union, but in fact this was quite old news. It did, however, seem to come as a surprise at the Liberal Party conference in Brighton, UK, where Gibraltar's deputy chief minister and leader of the Gibraltar Liberal Party, Dr Joseph Garcia, addressed those attending the traditional government reception.

He explained that Gibraltar has been having "discrete bilateral dialogue with Spain" which began when the Partido Popular were in power, with the aim of ensuring that Brexit works well for all affected parties.

Considering that previous Spanish governments have insisted on bilateral talks with the UK because they said they do not recognise Gibraltar as an authority in its own right, this is being seen as very positive news, and it was backed up by chief minister Fabian Picardo in a TV interview this week, when he explained that the discussions began a few months ago. However, he stressed that the negotiations over Brexit in general are being carried out between the UK government and the EU, and the talks between Gibraltar and Spain are only on certain local issues.

He was also adamant that Gibraltar has red lines which the government will never allow to be crossed, such as sovereignty, jurisdiction and control, and said that over issues such as the airport, over which Spain previously demanded joint control, there would be "absolutely no concession whatsoever".

Picardo also warned that the next six weeks will be crucial in the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU: "There will be peaks and troughs," he said, "good news and bad news in the media. This is a time of negotiation".