Gibraltar is not willing to become sovereign to Spain, even in light of the UK's decision to leave the EU, the British overseas territory's chief minister said today.
"Let people make irrelevant noises about flying flags over a rock if they want to waste their breath," said Fabian Picardo in a speech to the Gibraltar parliament today. "Such ideas will never prosper. Gibraltar will never pay a sovereignty price for access to a market. Gibraltar will never be Spanish in whole, in part or at all. So I ask all our citizens to ignore these noises."
Gibraltar, which was the first counting area to declare for yesterday's referendum, voted overwhelmingly in favour of remain. A mere 4.1 per cent of voters opt to tick the box for Leave.
However, given the size of the territory, Picardo admitted that its contribution did not "even move the needle".
Sir Paul Jenkins, a barrister at Matrix Chambers and former government chief legal official told City A.M. that Gibraltar’s remain vote was unsurprising, considering “it's a fair bet to say that the Spaniards will try to throw Gibraltar issues into the overall pot” during the UK's negotiations to leave the EU.
“[Gibraltar is] in danger of being a pawn in the negotiations…Spain on their own could not block a deal but there are going to be other countries wanting special deals and it only takes a couple of biggies to gang up on us,” he added.
Earlier today, AFP reported that Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo had proposed the idea of British-Spanish co-sovereignty for Gibraltar, with the idea that Spain would gain full sovereignty after a period of time.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce read:
Despite the overwhelming support from voters in Gibraltar to remain part of the EU, the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce is disappointed by the final decision in the UK to leave the European Union. Gibraltar is bound by the UK’s decision.