STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTDate: August 18th, 2020 in Gibraltar News
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Following the recent comments by Andrew Rosindell MP, a member of the all Party Parliamentary Group, and long standing friend and defender of Gibraltar, in relation to Brexit, there have been concerns expressed publicly as to the effect on Gibraltar’s Economic Development if there is a no deal result in the Brexit talks.
As Minister for Economic Development I wish to reassure our people and remind them that in 2019 General Election I described the post Brexit National Economic Plan as a strategy for Gibraltar’s Economic Development for the next four years precisely on this assumption, namely that there would be a no deal Brexit for us, even if there was a deal done with UK, by the EU.
I do not know what the term “a purist Brexit” is intended to convey but if the terminology means leaving without a deal, that is what we prepared ourselves for in 2019.
In fact since the 2016 referendum I have consistently, on a number of occasions, publicly argued that there was a very strong probability that there would be a no deal result in the negotiations, given the position the EU had adopted from day one which appeared to require the UK to abandon the objectives they had wanted to achieve by leaving the EU.
On 31st December we shall be leaving the EU with UK and there is still no indication of an EU/UK deal for a new relationship as from January.
The 2019 annual general meeting of the GSLP called on the Government to prioritize the implementation of the National Economic Plan which I am responsible for. Regrettably the appearance of the Covid pandemic and the lockdown measures to contain it, which no one could have predicted in 2019, has delayed the implementation of the economic program but now we have made a start with the recently announced Elderly Residential Home and other projects are being currently worked on to deliver them in the next 12 to 18 months.
The lockdown measures to combat the pandemic has brought about a global recession which has been described as the worst since the 1930s and in the last three months, for example, has reduced the economic output of the UK by 20% with similar reductions in other countries in Europe. However I am confident that this will not impact on our National Economic Plan, but it will have a negative impact on the future size of our economy and on the level of the revenues of the Government.
But let me be clear that the fact that I’m confident that we can maintain a better economic performance than others does not mean that we can simply ignore what is going on in the rest of the world as if it had no effect on us.
The impact of the global economy
on our potential customers will have an effect on our future economic
performance and this is likely to be more severe and longer lasting than
leaving the European Union without an agreement on a new relationship.
Our land frontier with Spain since 1986 has been an external border for goods, because we negotiated terms in 1972, not being in the custom union for example, which are unlikely to be available to us now. But there is no reason why our country should not have fluidity at the external border of the EU, as a non-member country because others have it.
If the present Government of Spain sees mutual benefit and value in this, we should explore the possibility conscious of the lesson of the Cordoba agreement which was eliminated after a change of Government in Spain.
Having said that, we need to remember that we have been members of the British family of Nations for 316 years and associated with the EEC/EU in the last 47.
If at any point it emerges that a new relationship with the EU requires us to choose between the two, the wedge that worries our friend Andrew Rosindell, the choice is simple, we stick with our family