In an unlikely turn of events, Gibraltar’s principal vice minister of Gibraltar and leader of the Liberal Party Joseph Garcia said a no deal Brexit will be “better than a bad agreement” in the British territory’s New Year message to its residents. Mr Garcia added: “The head minister has already made it clear that an exit without an agreement is better than a bad agreement. “Gibraltar must be prepared to leave the negotiating table if it has to. In these circumstances, planning for so many months to deal with a no deal Brexit will allow us to be well prepared.”
He elaborated, adding that it would be unfair for Gibraltar to pay the price for a bad deal from the EU, hinting at Spain’s relentless quest to take the territory from the UK.
He added that the “the no deal planning that has consumed us for many months will stand us in good stead”.
He said: “It will be recalled that we were supposed to have left the EU on 31 March 2019, then on 12 April 2019, then on 31 October 2019 and now finally on 31 January 2020.
“This all led to detailed contingency planning which we expect to continue as a prudent precaution.
“The structures we established will remain in place and the invaluable data and experience of the last two years will be put to good use.
“Indeed, in that no deal context, it is true to say that we have left no stone unturned and we have dealt with whatever issues were in our control. It is quite simply impossible to have done more.
“As this new phase opens, the intensity and the pace will pick up once again. It is not in Gibraltar’s interests to provide a blow-by-blow account in public of everything that happens.
“At the same time, we do need to be conscious of political mischief-making on the part of others outside Gibraltar during that sensitive period.”
He added: “The Government has already pledged to keep the opposition parties in the Brexit Select Committee of the Gibraltar Parliament fully informed of developments.”
It comes as Spain’s far-right Vox party has issued a warning to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and said they “will fight” to reclaim sovereignty of the British territory.
Vox saw its seats in the Spanish parliament more than double, from 24 to 52 seats, after Sunday’s national election and the result may not be good news for Britain’s overseas territory Gibraltar.
The far-right party has often hurled insults at the country, located on Spain’s south coast, specifically targeting its Chief Minister.
In November, a branch of the Spanish political party launched a fresh attack on Gibraltar and its leading politian, after Mr Picardo expressed concern over Vox’s ascendency.
Mr Picardo said: “The rise of Vox, a party that has made false and disparaging remarks about Gibraltar, will nonetheless also be a concern to many, we must combat the populist narrative of parties like Vox with something as damning and dangerous to it as the truth.
“Let no one have any doubt that we will do that, fighting their attempt to spread lies about us and to incite hatred against us, in every relevant forum and tribunal.”
Despite Britons in Gibraltar voting a staggering 98 percent to remain British in the 2002 referendum on the matter, Spain has continued to claim the territory is their own.
Gibraltar became British-owned in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.
This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is meeting new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over Brexit negotiations.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.