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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.

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

 

Gibraltar raised again in Commons questions (GBC News)
Gibraltar has been raised in Commons again with questions by Andrew Rosindell MP to Europe Minister, David Lidington. Andrew Rosindell asked what recent steps the UK had taken to demonstrate to the Spanish Government that it does not intend to negotiate on Gibraltar.


EU vote first step to Rock exclusion from aviation measure (Gibralter Chronicle)
MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday voted to exclude Gibraltar from draft EU aviation legislation designed to harmonise air traffic control. The MEPs backed a Spanish amendment that removed post-Cordoba language that would have ensured the ‘Single European Sky’ legislation was extended to the Rock.

 

UK reiterates support for Gibraltar's people right to determine their own future (Merco Press)
A senior Foreign Office minister summed up Britain’s position on Gibraltar firmly and concisely this week in Parliament. “At the heart of this issue is the right of the people of Gibraltar to determine their own future,” said Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

 

Government explains Gibraltarian status (GBC News)
The Government has explained that to be on the register of Gibraltarians you must be British, and have been born in Gibraltar before the 1925 or be the descendent, or spouse of a descendent, born before then. In exceptional circumstances a British citizen who has lived in Gibraltar for 25 years may be registered.

 

GFA welcomes stadium debate (Gibraltar Chronicle)
The Gibraltar Football Association (GFA) welcomed the “considerable public discussion” that has ensued following an invitation to the public for comments on their application for an UEFA stadium at Europa Point. In a statement, the association said: “The GFA embraces the fact that the public has engaged in this way.”


GSD push for housing means testing as opposed to universal entitlement (Panorama)
The GSD have advocated means testing for housing as one of its new policies in the lead-up to the next election. The GSD would do away with the universal entitlement housing policy that has been implemented by the Government and put in a system which would assess the amount of money earned and the possibility of getting a mortgage.


Gibraltar’s Net Gambling Niche Under Threat (IDG Connect)
In its Budget statement today, the British Government looks set to confirm new licensing requirements and a place of consumption (POC) tax for remote gambling companies doing business with UK customers. From mid-2014, companies will need to acquire a licence before advertising to, and taking bets from, UK-based customers.

 

UK: Gibraltar can determine its own future (Euro Weekly News)
The head of NatWest in Gibraltar said the bank remained committed to the Rock despite news that its parent, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, is to slash its overseas operations following staggering losses.

 

 

 

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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.