‘We want to remain in the EU’: What will happen to Gibraltar after Brexit?

Gibraltar has prospered through Britain’s membership of the EU. But now Britain is leaving and taking Gibraltar with it. William Cook asks the residents what they think

Tuesday 15 December 2020 13:22 GMT
Can Gibraltar muddle through? 
Can Gibraltar muddle through?  (AFP via Getty)

Standing at the summit of Gibraltar, looking down at the oil tankers and container ships crisscrossing the narrow straits below, you can see why this rocky promontory has always been so important. In past centuries, whoever controlled this rock controlled all the shipping that passed beneath it, between Europe and Africa, between the Atlantic and the Med.

For the past 300 years the country that’s controlled the Rock of Gibraltar has been Britain, but as the end of the transition period draws near this crowded peninsular has become significant for an entirely different reason. For half a century, Gibraltar has prospered mightily through Britain’s membership of the European Union. But now Britain is leaving the EU and taking Gibraltar with it, even though Gibraltarians voted by a massive 96 per cent to 4 per cent to remain. So how will Gibraltar’s reluctant departure affect its relationship with Spain – and Britain? Last week, I went back to Gibraltar to find out.

I first visited Gibraltar four years ago, a few months after the EU referendum. I was curious to see how the Gibraltarians felt about those Brexiteers back in Blighty who’d outvoted them. Gibraltar had voted to remain by a far greater margin than any region in mainland Britain. Would Brexit be the lever that tilted Gibraltarians away from Britain, towards Spain?

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