Blow for Gibraltar as EU excludes it from no-deal contingency plans

Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo.
Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo. / SUR
  • The government says the decision has not come as a surprise and it is studying the potential impact on Gibraltar in close detail

The Gibraltar government began looking at the implications of a possible Brexit as soon as the EU referendum was announced in 2016, and throughout the negotiations with Spain and UK it has continued to make contingency plans in case Britain, and therefore Gibraltar, leaves without a deal - although this has always been seen as the worst scenario for the Rock.

Chief minister Fabian Picardo and his team, who negotiated the Gibraltar Protocol and Memoranda of Understanding, insist that the Withdrawal Agreement approved recently by the European Council provides Gibraltar with the best possible protection in the face of Brexit, and that no deal would be devastating for Gibraltar. Now, however, it looks as if the UK parliament will reject the deal negotiated by Theresa May and the dreaded no-deal scenario looks increasingly possible.

Picardo and deputy chief minister Dr Joseph Garcia, who holds the Brexit portfolio, flew to London the other day for talks with senior officials about the latest situation. When they returned, they said that Gibraltar, like the EU and UK would now be stepping up preparations for a potential no deal, but insisted there was no cause for alarm. "It does not mean that this is going to happen," said Dr Garcia.

Shortly after their return, however, the EU released its own contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit and included a blow for Gibraltar: those plans will not apply to the Rock. The government is now studying the impact of that decision in detail, but stresses that it is "not surprised" and that it doesn't reflect the view of the UK government. Meanwhile it has already published technical notices on passports, pet passports, driving licences and motor insurance as part of its contingency plans.