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    A general view shows the Spanish city of La Linea de la Concepcion (rear) and the tarmac of the Gibraltar International Airport (bottom L) while tourists stand on the top of the Rock (R) next to the European Union flag, in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, September 14, 2016

    What is Awaiting Gibraltar Amid Brexit?

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    With Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo stating that aspects of Brexit could be implemented selectively in the territory, yet more questions are being raised concerning the future of the local economy and its ties to the UK. Sputnik spoke with Gareth Stockey, Lecturer in Spanish at the University of Nottingham.

    Sputnik: Can Gibraltar actually change their Brexit deal so that it differs from the UK and implement it selectively?

    Gareth Stockey: Fabian Picardo obviously thinks that they can. I think that his position is that as the constitution of Gibraltar now allows for a degree of independent action. He’s looking specifically at the fact that the constitution allows Gibraltar effective independent policy over trade and business.

    However, in the same constitution Britain retains rights to decide over Gibraltar’s foreign affairs, so I suppose whether Gibraltar can act independently or not, depends on how you interpret that constitution.

    READ MORE: Brexit Leak: 'UK Treasury Has Lost Credibility' in Making Forecasts — Academic

    Sputnik: What impact would a no deal or bad deal Brexit have on Gibraltar?

    Gareth Stockey: The Gibraltarians were the part of the UK electorate that registered the highest support for remaining inside the European Union and it’s not difficult to understand why.

    The economy of Gibraltar is very much benefiting from open access to the European Union and in general, good relations between countries.

    Quite apart from the potential affect it could have on business in Gibraltar, the other shadow hanging over Gibraltar as far as Brexit is concerned, is the future attitude of Spain.

    Within the European Union to some extent Gibraltar has a level of protection from any form of Spanish aggression towards them, most likely some kind of restrictions on the border.

    With Gibraltar outside of the European Union Spain would be much freer to do what it wanted and would have the European Union’s backing to do so and the UK would have no voice with the European Union to put pressure on Spain regarding Gibraltar.

    Sputnik: Could Gibraltar join Spain or become independent following Brexit?

    Gareth Stockey: The chances of Gibraltar joining Spain are practically zero. In the last referendum in Gibraltar that was held on the subject 98% of the population voted to retain their link with Britain.

    There’s just no sentiment in Gibraltar for that, even among passionate pro Europeans, there is no sentiment for some kind of agreement with Spain regarding sovereignty.  Even the proposal that’s been mooted from time to time about shared sovereignty of Gibraltar or some kind of Andorra solution to the Gibraltar problem, there’s just no appetite for that at all.

    As for Gibraltar becoming independent, again I don’t really see how that could happen. Effectively Gibraltar’s sovereignty is still guaranteed by the Treaty of Utrecht, which is over three hundred years old now and the basis of the current interpretations of Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

    Put simply, should Britain ever relinquish sovereignty of Gibraltar, Spain would have first refusal and there’s no way a Spanish government would not accept that.

    I think that Fabian Picardo is clearly creating some space for what he regards as an independent deal after Brexit with the European Union if necessary. The idea of becoming fully independent is not even on the table.

    The views and opinions expressed by Gareth Stockey are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

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    Third of Brits Ready to Swap Some Sovereignty Over Gibraltar for Better EU Deal
    Gibraltar Should Keep 'Fluid' Border With Spain After Brexit - Senior Official
    King Felipe Confident Britain and Spain Will Work Out a Deal on Gibraltar
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