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.
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.
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.
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.