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Morning Call: the best from Gibraltar

A selection of the best articles about politics, business and life on the Rock from the last seven days.

  1. Gibraltar 1-0 Malta: Kyle Casciaro the goal hero as UEFA newcomers claim first win (Daily Mail)

Gibraltar’s victory over Malta on Wednesday 4th June was widely reported. The Daily Mail writes: “Newcomers Gibraltar claimed their first win in only their fifth international match after Kyle Casciaro scored the winner on Wednesday. Casciaro, who plays for Lincoln in the Gibraltar Premier Division, fired home in the 66th minute in the friendly played in Portugal. Gibraltar had to hold their nerve during five minutes of injury time before they could celebrate the memorable victory.” Read our interview with the Gibraltar Football Association’s chief exec Dennis Beiso here.

  1. Change in  marriage laws will boost tourism income (Gibraltar Chronicle)

Gibraltar’s parliament have unanimously approved new legislation which means non-resident couples wishing to marry in Gibraltar will have to spend at least one night on the Rock either before or after the ceremony. This night could be spent in a hotel or with a resident of the Rock. Tourism minister Neil Costa, who initiated the policy change, has said the change will bring financial benefits to local business.


  1. Draft legislation promises tougher tobacco regulation (Gibraltar Chronicle)

Disputes over the movement of cheap tobacco from Gibraltar to neighbouring Spain have caused significant border tension. Attempts to smuggle tobacco from Gibraltar across the frontier are frequent, and Spain has accused Gibraltar of a lack of cooperation in curbing smuggling. New draft legislation put to Gibraltar’s parliament would mean tobacco venders must slash the maximum purchase allowance from 1,000 to 200 cigarettes, alongside further amendments to the 1997 Tobacco Act.


  1. Chief Minister reflects on long overdue improvements to Gibraltar’s social fabric (Vox)

In a statement released by the government, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo reflected on social changes to Gibraltarian society, including the Gibraltarian Status Act. The act, amended last week, “extended the right to be registered and identify as Gibraltarian to those British citizen who had lived in Gibraltar for 10 year, rather than for 25 years as was previously the case.”


  1. EU Commissioner in Madrid to discuss Gibraltar (Panorama)

Swedish politician and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom arrived in Madrid on 3rd June for a series of meetings with Spanish Ministers and officials, reports Panorama. They report her agenda is a “closely guarded secret”, though it is known that issues on the Gibraltar Frontier will also feature high on her discussion list.


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Gibraltar and Europe: caught in the slipstream?

The British papers are full of who has the lead in the European in or out campaigns – Guy Clapperton considers the fallout for the smaller territories

Let’s start by acknowledging that there is no clear pattern emerging in the Europe debate, as long as we understand “Europe debate” to mean whether the UK should stay in or leave the European Union. This week alone we’ve seen Boris Johnson “warning Obama off” (as the BBC put it) getting involved in the debated, the same London Mayor and MP having a radio spat with Chuka Umunna involving telling each other to man up and various insults traded as either side accuses the other of scaremongering or making it up as they go along.

Divining who’s going to win is more difficult. The Daily Telegraph reports that “out” has it by a tiny margin but, crucially, the anti-Europe vote is likely to be more motivated so will actually show up on the day, expanding the margin by which it will win. Meanwhile the Times’ daily Red Box email points to Elections Etc. whose research suggests a 58% “remain” vote but with a plus or minus 14% error margin; so somewhere between 44% and 72% will go for staying in the EU. This, readers will note, tells us precisely nothing.

So the outcome, even if there weren’t 100 days in which Presidents and world leaders will offer counsel, claims and counterclaims will be made and the “leave” campaign will eventually decide who the official “leave” group actually is (there are two factions at the moment, doing the best impression of the Monty Python Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea that they can manage), we wouldn’t want to call a snap referendum even if it were to be called this afternoon.

What’s clear is that the outcome will ripple beyond the British mainland’s shores, and the ramifications of an “out” vote are already being felt on Gibraltar. Anyone doubting this should check today’s Times (subscription required), in which the Gibraltarian Chief Minister Fabian Picardo highlights recent Spanish statements about what would happen in the event of a Brexit.

Spain actually caused a few eyebrows to raise and some other people to panic just a little with its recent statements. Essentially the country’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, suggested that there would be conversations on the sovereignty of Gibraltar the “day after” an announcement of a British exit, according to the Daily Mail and other reports. He also said (much, much further down the report) that he didn’t want Britain to leave: “God forbid” is the phrase he uses.

He raised the idea of joint sovereignty once again more recently, reports the Gibraltar Chronicle, this time suggesting that if Britain leaves Europe then Gib could do what it nearly did (he says) in 2002 and start transitioning towards Spain. This is an interesting definition of “nearly” when 98.48% of the electorate actually voted not to do so, but remaining British when this might exclude the Rock from Europe would inevitably raise different issues if not a different final outcome.

Outside Gibraltarian interests the effect could be more severe than that. SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made no secret of her wish to make a fresh case for Scottish independence. The once-in-a-generation referendum on this was lost in 2014 but should Britain exit Europe with a majority of Scots clearly demonstrating that they want to stay in, the case becomes stronger (although the collapse of the oil price would blow the original blueprint out of the water).

So we could end up with Scotland as well as Gibraltar wanting to remain in Europe while Britain made its exit. Whether this would be legally possible if both stayed tied to Britain is untested as yet – and with Spain eager to enter talks the day after an exit is agreed but the Gibraltarians implacably opposed to becoming Spanish, the way forward would not be clear.

Guy Clapperton is the freelance journalist who edits the New Statesman’s Gibraltar hub. You can also find him in the Guardian, Computer Business Review and Professional Outsourcing which he edits.