This process started 9 months later, on 29 March 2017, at which point the UK Government formally triggered what was referred to as “Article 50”. The 2-year period allowed by the EU treaties in which to organise the UK and Gibraltar’s divorce from the EU started to countdown from then. These arrangements would be contained in the Withdrawal Agreement which entered into force almost a year later than expected, on 1 February 2020, given the many difficulties the UK Government needed to overcome in the UK Parliament to obtain support for it. By this point, we are almost 4 years on from the referendum.
I used the word divorce earlier intentionally. I used it because I want to illustrate that the Withdrawal Agreement was not about building a new relationship but organising the breakup of an old one. It was about bringing the past up to the present. It was not about the future.
The work the Gibraltar Government did until then, which was by no means easy, is what allowed Gibraltar to form part of the orderly separation arrangements and stand in with a chance of securing its own, tailor-made, future relationship with the EU. This would be contained in a separate treaty.