Gibraltar’s Chief Minister has responded to reports in the Spanish press of any claims to sovereignty, calling people to ignore them.
Speaking in a video address Monday, Picardo said they were in the “thick of negotiations” during the last stages of Brexit, and “as I said on National Day, this is an area where the Government of Gibraltar, led by me, will give not an inch”.
He continued, “You’re reading stuff in Spanish newspapers, in some European papers, which is inspired by Spanish newspapers, which puts in the Spanish version of events, the Spanish claims, what they want. Absolutely ignore those”.
In 1967, the first referendum was held where Gibraltar residents voted on whether to stay under British sovereignty or pass to Spain, with 96 percent voting for the former. Spain has vied for authority over the area with which it shares a land border since.
Politico reported last week Spain was pushing for Gibraltar to be part of the Schengen zone through which passport-free travel is permitted.
Seemless travel currently occurs between Spain and Gibraltar as residents on both sides of the border require access for reasons including work.
“Allowing Gibraltar to participate in Schengen is controversial for the U.K., which refused to participate in the free movement aspect of Schengen while it was part of the EU”, wrote Christina Gallardo.
Spain has also consistently called for shared responsibility for Gibraltar affairs, and conceding to its Schengen membership may be seen as a step that edges uncomfortably toward such a vision. Britain is to make its decision in the coming weeks while Picardo has supported joining the Schengen.
“We will never agree to anything that dilutes British sovereignty, jurisdiction, or control over Gibraltar in the negotiations. We are tough; we are the hawks. We will not allow them to get anything past us,” said Picardo in his address.
There have been 334 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the Rock, which has a population of around 33,700.
Restrictions are currently in place around social gatherings, although, according to the New York Times, there has been an uptick in demand for wedding ceremonies and wedding travel to the Rock.