Gibraltar told to accept ‘uncomfortable’ life outside of EU as Brexit row explodes

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The Chief Minister of Gibraltar has said the territory will have an “uncomfortable” experience if the UK and, EU and Spain cannot finally agree on a post-Brexit arrangement. Fabian Picardo warned Gibraltarians that a transition phase may be necessary, which could mean some difficulties for the Rock.

In his New Year’s speech, he said: “The agreement may be uncomfortable at first in some areas.

“Like joining the European Union, I may have been initially uncomfortable in 1972. But a ‘no deal’ would also be very uncomfortable.”

Mr Picardo added that he and his colleagues are working “day and night” to reach a deal, but warned it will not be an easy dispute to resolve.

He continued: “What we are negotiating is hugely complex… From product labelling to the taxation of goods, the final treaty is likely to be hundreds of pages long.

Recently, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albare tried to calm talk of a ‘no deal scenario’ for Gibraltar.

But, he also said: “The government of Spain and the EU, which is ultimately the signatory on the agreement with the UK, are ready for any scenario.

“Obviously we cannot be in this situation forever. The United Kingdom has to say clearly if it wants this agreement, which is global and touches all aspects of what has to be the relationship between Spain and the United Kingdom regarding Gibraltar, or if it does not want it.”

Gibraltarians are clearly concerned about where talks could be headed, however. In November, many of the territory’s departments and agencies simulated a scenario in which the UK, the EU and Spain could not reach a deal.

Joseph Garcia, Gibraltar’s deputy chief minister, said in a statement at the time: “The government remains firmly committed to the negotiation of a treaty but has a duty to prepare for no treaty at the same time.

“This will be a different world where our interactions with Spain and with the EU will be more cumbersome, bureaucratic and time-consuming than anything we have known before.”