The Chief and Deputy Chief Minister meet with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) at the White House
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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. Britain urges dawn raid inspections on Gibraltar border after Spanish aggression hits the economy

The Daily Mail reports: “Britain has demanded Brussels launch surprise inspections in Gibraltar of Spanish border checks in a fresh escalation of tensions between London and Madrid. Ministers want the European Commission to make unannounced visits to assess the legality of border checks which have been blamed for long queues to enter and leave the Rock. The row has been simmering since last summer when Spain suggested a £43.50 fee could be imposed on anyone wanting to cross the border with the British territory. Visitor numbers to Gibraltar have fallen as a result of the hold-ups, which Madrid argues are needed to prevent smuggling across the border.”

2. Gibraltar delegation outlines Gibraltar’s step towards renewable energy to White House advisors

Your Gib TV reports: “Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, have met with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of The White House - which houses a majority of offices for White House staff. The CEQ are President Obama's principal policy advisers on environmental issues and initiatives. The Gibraltar delegation met with the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Associate Director for Climate Change.”


3. Spain reiterates before the UN the urgency of decolonising Gibraltar

The Diplomat in Spain reports: “The Spanish Government reiterated on Monday at the United Nations the “urgent need to put an end to [Gibraltar’s] colonial state”. It did so before the Special Committee on Decolonization (C24), where, every year, Spain lays out its reasons for recovering sovereignty over the British colony. The Spanish representative, the diplomat Javier Gutiérrez, underscored on this occasion that the tensions and provocations of the Gibraltarian Authorities have increased in recent months as a consequence of “unilateral acts”. He mentioned, specifically, the harassment of Spanish fishermen who work in the waters off the coast of Gibraltar.”


4. Picardo asks UN to support Gibraltar or “tell us why you won’t”

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo also addressed the UN Special Committee on Decolonization in New York. He argued that the C24 should support Gibraltar because “that is what you are created to do – or tell us why you won’t without pretending that you can’t,” reports GBC.


5. Gibraltar body to challenge new UK Gambling Act

IGamingBusiness reports: “The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) has written to the UK government and Gambling Commission to declare its intention to challenge the new Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014.The GBGA has argued that the new law is unnecessary and will open up the UK market to operators based anywhere in the world – some of whom will not obtain a licence.” Read more on this issue from Peter Howitt, President of the GBGA, writing for the NS here


6. Gibraltar debuts as port of call for American cruise company in 2015 

Vox reports: “Gibraltar has been included as a port of call in the 2015 schedule of American cruise company Grand Circle Cruise Line, which will be introducing a new small ship tour named ‘Classic Cities & Moorish Traditions of Iberia & Morocco’. The ten-day itinerary on board the 98 passenger all-suite Corinthian, comprises Lisbon, Portimao, Casablanca, Tangier, Gibraltar and Sevilla. The Rock’s inclusion in the programme came about thanks to the efforts of ship agents MH Bland in close consultation with the Minister for Tourism and the Gibraltar Tourist Board.”

Photo: Getty
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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.