HUNDREDS gathered in red and white at Casemates Square to hear Chief Minister Fabian Picardo read out messages of support from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III on Gibraltar’s National Day.
Picardo was the last of selected speakers to take voice in support of Gibraltar’s right to self-determination, all who clamoured for the Britishness of the Rock.
They included Self-Determination for Gibraltar Group President Richard Buttigieg, Peter Biggs from the Falkland Islands and All-Party Gibraltar Parliamentary group chairman Sir Bob Neill.
But the highlight of the day was Picardo’s passionate speech, where he read a letter from the UK Prime Minister.
“National Day commemorates Gibraltar’s wish to remain under British sovereignty in the 1967 referendum,” Sunak said through Picardo.
“Since then, Gibraltar has made clear to the international community its wish to remain British.
“I can assure you that the UK Government will never enter into
arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another state against their freely and democratically expressed wishes.”
“And we will also never enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.”
“The UK and Gibraltar are joined by an enduring bond, We may be geographically separated but Gibraltar is a precious part of the UK family within our great Commonwealth.”
Picardo remembered last year’s death of Queen Elizabeth and read a letter from King Charles III who sent his congratulations to the people of Gibraltar.
“I look forward to the continuing warm friendship, and the strong and close partnership that we share, working together for prosperity, democracy and peace, as we face these challenging times,” Picardo read for the King.
“As you, and the people of Gibraltar, celebrate today, my wife joins me in sending you our very best wishes for the year ahead.”
He recalled ‘those we have lost in Morocco to the earthquake’, which now number over 2,100 dead.
“The GHA is working to send a medical team,” he said.
“And we will do more to help a neighbour that helped us when we needed them.”
He was referring to the thousands of Moroccans who came to work in Gibraltar when General Franco shut the frontier in 1969.
Finally, he said Gibraltar was ‘on the cusp of a great deal’ but he added he would ‘no deal is worth giving up any part of our sovereignty’.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was also in the crowd but ‘just here on holiday’, he told journalists who flocked to him.
But he thanked Gibraltar for ‘being such a great friend to the United Kingdom’ on social media.
After the morning events, people took to the beaches and bathing areas to continue the revelry into the night with family and friends to celebrate the Rock’s self-determination.
The day ended with fireworks lighting up the night sky to make sure Gibraltarians did not remember the first real National Day celebration since 2019 for some time.
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