What a pleasure it is to welcome you again after so many years of pandemic absence.
I know that Joseph Garcia, the Deputy Chief Minister, and I are amongst friends here tonight.
And I say that, not just because we are accompanied by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
James has long been a friend.
Long before he was Minister for Europe.
I say that we are amongst friends also because of all of you are great friends of the Rock.
Not least those of you who are members of our All Party Group.
In fact, I know that in the British Conservative and Unionist Party, support for Gibraltar trickles up as well as down.
And I know that we are two thousand five hundred kilometres away from Gibraltar.
But I also know that I could very easily tonight have started my address by calling you all ‘my fellow Gibraltarians’.
For each of you cares deeply about Gibraltar and our prospects for the future.
I know you care as deeply as we do to ensure that every thing we do is designed to keep us entirely, exclusively and enduringly British.
I know that you will work with us to ensure that BREXIT delivers dividends for us in a new UK/EU Treaty on our future relationship with the EU.
And I know that, like every Gibraltarian, you will want to ensure that any such treaty is safe and secure for Gibraltar.
For I also know that we all agree that the future of Gibraltar can only be decided by the Gibraltarians.
And that your commitment to our self-determination is unquestionable.
And that our commitment to Britain is unshakable.
So I want to thank Liz Truss for her work and commitment to Gibraltar as Foreign Secretary.
I know that commitment and readiness to help in the negotiations endures now in her time as Prime Minister.
She has made clear to me directly already that she remains ready to work with me to get this negotiation safely and securely over the line for Gibraltar.
And I want to thank the Conservative governments of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss for their support through COVID also.
In the supply of vacancies, which made us the first territory with full population vaccination.
And the assistance with a Sovereign Guarantee for our long term pandemic debt.
Thanks to Jesse Norman for his support on that when he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury, now Overseas Territories Minister.
No doubt we will work together again in his new guise.
But perhaps more pertinently, I thank Liz Truss for her decision as Prime Minister to bequeath us James Cleverly as the new Foreign Secretary.
James is more than just a great friend of the Rock.
He is now an old hand in these negotiations also.
And having worked with him for some time now since he became Minister for Europe, I can tell you he is exactly the man for the moment given the stage we are at.
And I know that Leo Docherty will be a great addition to Team Gibraltar as we move onto trying to finalise the new treaty in coming weeks.
To be truly in Team GIBRALTAR you have to wear the colours though.
So I have had specifically brought over the colours for James and Leo to wear as we get into the final stages of this negotiation.
It will be lovely to see you wearing these in Gibraltar next year for our National Celebrations.
This year, as many of you will know, we cancelled our National Day events on the 10th September.
The death of Her Late Majesty left us with nothing to celebrate and everything to mourn.
You all know that the British Crown has no more loyal subjects than the Gibraltarians.
Our Royal Gibraltar Regiment proudly guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces in March this year.
What better demonstration than that of our indisputably British Sovereignty.
Guarding Our Sovereign.
We were therefore heart broken when the death of Her Late Majesty was announced.
Because as you may already have heard me say, but I will never tire of repeating,
We were her Rock – and she was ours.
And both those analogies extend far beyond the geological.
So today, as I see you for the first time since the pandemic and as we gather for the first time since we mourn Her, I want to end my address to you tonight reaffirming the entire, enduring and exclusive loyalty and commitment of the People and Government of Gibraltar to the British Crown.
We all wish and pray that our beloved Queen Elizabeth shall rest in Eternal Peace.
And I urge you all to raise your glasses and toast, my dear friends, the King of Gibraltar, Charles the III.
Long Live The King.