Now, the enclave at the foot of mainland Spain is in talks with Scotland, another British region which voted to stay in the EU, since the Chief Ministers of each say it is unfair that their people should be forced out of the single market and free movement agreement without their consent.
The latter’s leader, Fabián Picardo, says: “In the referendum, it was a choice of remaining inside the EU under the current conditions, or leaving. But nobody knew what this second option really meant.”
Discussions with Scotland are aimed at allowing the two regions, and possibly Northern Ireland – where all bar one coastal constituency opted to leave – could stay in the Union whilst the rest of the UK left.
“It’s a dreadfully difficult plan with really complex details, but it’s an option,” Picardo admitted.
“Most politicians in the UK have accepted the inevitable with the Brexit, but a number of those who voted ‘Leave’ are now regretting it and could well change their minds as the date of the UK’s actual departure from the EU draws near.
“Also, the UK government needs to bear in mind that a significant chunk of the country – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – chose to remain.”
In addition to his concerns about Spain’s continued threats that the Rock would not be able to enjoy free movement of workers unless it agreed to joint sovereignty, which it does not wish to entertain, the advantages of being within the EU are enormous for Gibraltar’s inhabitants, Picardo points out.
Gibraltar is exempt from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the application of intra-state IVA, the Customs Union and the Common Trade Policy (CTP).
As for Spain’s insistence on joint sovereignty, Picardo urges the country to ‘drop the subject’ because it is ‘never going to happen’.
The Rock has been British for 303 years, and in 2002 the people living there overwhelmingly rejected a potential joint sovereignty agreement, having all along stated they want to remain British.