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GIBRALTAR

Gibraltar wants another referendum on Brexit

Gibraltar is demanding a second referendum once a post-Brexit deal has been negotiated because Brits were given a "false prospectus" on what Brexit would look like.

Gibraltar wants another referendum on Brexit
Gibraltar remains defiant in face of Spanish claims. Photo: AFP

“In the referendum two weeks ago it was either in, with our existing conditions, or out. But nobody knew what out meant,” Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday.

The leader of the UK’s most pro-EU voting district said voters should be given a second chance to decide between remaining part of the EU and accepting a new post-Brexit accord with EU member states.

“Some people who voted to leave might have thought that an out deal meant something completely different,” he said on the eve of a trip to London and Brussels.

“Some people might have voted with rose-tinted spectacles, and others might have been persuaded on the basis of a false prospectus that Brexiters advanced.”

Gibraltar is heavily reliant on EU membership not least because it allows freedom of movement across its border with Spain. 

Just days after the referendum result, Picardo revealed that he had been speaking with Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, about exploring their options as countries that both want to remain within the EU.

“I can imagine a situation where some parts of what is today the member state United Kingdom are stripped out and others remain,” he said.

“That means that we don't have to apply again for access, we simply remain with the access we have today, and those parts that leave are then given a different sort of access, which is negotiated but not necessarily under Article 50.”

But the discussion prompted swift response from Spain which said it would never accept separate negotations with Scotland or Gibraltar and the EU. S

“The Spanish government is opposed to any negotiations with anyone else but the British government,” Rajoy said after 27 EU leaders – excluding Britain – met in Brussels to discuss the Brexit vote.

“The United Kingdom leaves and with it, all those who make up the United Kingdom,” he said.

The tiny territory of Gibraltar with its 33,000 population relies heavily upon workers living in Spain, supplies imported from Spain and its ability to trade to within the European Single Market.

As expected in the referendum on June 23rd, Gibraltar backed remaining part of the EU with a massive 96 percent mandate (19,322) on a turnout of 84 percent.

Likewise all 32 Scottish council areas voted to remain, with a total of 62 percent (1.6 million) on a turnout of 67 percent.

Gibraltar has said that under absolutely no circumstances would it consider a joint sovereignty agreement between UK and Spain.

“There will be no talks, or even talks about talks, about the sovereignty of Gibraltar,” Picardo said in a speech to Gibraltar’s parliament just hours after the Brexit vote.

Picardo’s comments came in the wake of Spain implying it was closer to bringing Gibraltar under its control.

“The Spanish flag is much closer to the Rock,” said Spain’s acting foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo on the morning of the Brexit result.

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BREXIT

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

The Spanish government has confirmed that it will not extend its reciprocal healthcare agreements with Gibraltar, meaning that from July 1st 2022, it will come to an end.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

When the UK left the EU on December 31st 2020, both sides agreed that the UK’s EHIC European healthcare cards could still be used until their expiry dates.

This card provided British travellers with free state-provided medical care in the EU in case of emergencies.

Beyond their five year period of validity, EHIC cards are no longer valid and travellers have to apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. 

Spain made a separate agreement with Gibraltar under its Royal Brexit Decree in which unilateral arrangements would be maintained in the territory and extended until June 30th 2022.

During the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the Spanish Government decided not to extend the agreement further, meaning that residents of Gibraltar will no longer be able to benefit from it.

In a statement the government of Gibraltar said: “It would have been HMGoG’s preference for these arrangements, which deeply affect citizens on either side of the border on matters as essential as healthcare, to have been maintained. Indeed, HMGoG was prepared to continue with them”.

“However, because reciprocity is a key element to these arrangements which cannot work without coordination and provisions for reimbursement of costs etc., HMGoG is left with no option but to discontinue them also in so far as treatment in Gibraltar is concerned,” it continued. 

What does this mean?

Gibraltar residents insured under Gibraltar’s Group Practice Medical Scheme will, after 30th June 2022, no longer be able to access free emergency healthcare in Spain during a temporary stay in the country. 

Those who are residents in Spain who travel over to Gibraltar will not have access to free healthcare on The Rock either. 

As a consequence, if a resident of Gibraltar falls ill or has an accident while over the border in Spain or the same for a Spanish resident in Gibraltar, they will have to pay for healthcare.

The government of Gibraltar is encouraging its citizens from July 1st 2022 to have appropriate travel insurance with medical cover each time they visit Spain.

This means that even those who are hopping over the border for few hours such as for a shopping trip or going out for dinner will have to make sure that they have adequate health insurance. 

“Where medical attention is required the costs incurred may be considerable, so you should ensure you have adequate insurance cover or alternatively the means to pay,” the Gibraltar government said in their statement.

  

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