THE fate of Gibraltar’s post-Brexit future will need to be decided by this coming Friday or face a radical change to the way of life.
Although the Gibraltar Government has remained silent on the details, reports from Spanish and British newspapers have painted a picture of the discussions behind the scenes.
The first bombshell arrived after Chief Minister Fabian Picardo revealed that the UK trade deal with the EU did not include Gibraltar.
It meant that the Rock would have to find out its own fate with the country that has never let up trying to take it back.
The alternative would be wet-stamping for all apart from cross-frontier workers, hurting both the economy of Gibraltar and the surrounding Campo area.
Top-level and technical talks took place throughout 2020, disrupted to some extent by COVID-19.
The first thing that was agreed was that around 15,000 cross-frontier workers would be allowed to pass into the Rock everyday unimpeded.
Picardo then revealed that he had plans for Gibraltar becoming part of Schengen and perhaps the Single Market.
The idea would be that Gibraltar would then become the last frontier of the EU rather than the frontier between Spain and Gibraltar.
Spanish government sources denied reports that claimed the sticking point was a desire to see Spanish customs officers at the port and airport.
Instead they said it was whether those Frontex border guards would have to report to Madrid or Brussels.
UK newspaper The Express then suggested that Boris Johnson was blocking the deal because it would mean British citizens would have to take out a visa to visit the Rock.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said she was ready to do away the frontier altogether if a deal was struck.
However, if no agreement is found she said Gibraltar would be ‘the only place where there would be a hard Brexit’.
Gonzalez Laya also stated that the residents of the Rock would not enjoy the same rights as British citizens.
This would mean Gibraltarians would still need the extra pre-EU licences and would not have access to the Spanish health system unlike other British citizens.
Despite the Chief Minister’s desire to continue talks after Gibraltar and the UK left the EU, she said these were out of the question after December 31.
In the latest development the Gibraltar Campo mayors have made a joint plea to the Spanish government to strike a deal.
Picardo’s only comments have been in the form of cryptic tweets which talked about a storm which he said had now passed.
With Gibraltar having little influence over foreign affairs under the 2006 constitution, the decision ultimately rests with the UK and Spain.
Although its self-determination is preserved under this constitution and Gibraltar is part of the UK delegation, the final word is that of Boris Johnson himself.