Welcome to this Gibraltar Day event at the Shard in London.
Why at The Shard?
For two reasons – the first is that we already paid for this event for 2020…
But you know what happened next.
So, no new money has been hurt in the organisation of this event.
Secondly, we are here because we want to show you modern Gibraltar.
We want to make the case for a Gibraltar that is pointing to a digital future.
Not forgetting our past.
But highlighting today, to you, the modern Gibraltar that we represent.
And it is that modern Gibraltar that is doing more and more business with London and with the United Kingdom beyond it.
It is that modern Gibraltar that holds the key to our people’s continued prosperity.
It is that modern Gibraltar that enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship of partnership with the United Kingdom.
Of course, after what we have all been through in the past thirty six months, it is a real pleasure to be with you today at this usually annual event.
It is really quite remarkable to think that our last event at the Gherkin was three years ago.
In those days, the biggest issue on the horizon was Brexit.
Oh, for the heady days when all that we had to deal with was BREXIT.
Then we were blind to what was to become the greatest challenge to have faced any elected Government in Gibraltar’s history.
An airborne human disease that killed otherwise healthy people.
And yet it was in that time that we reaped what is undoubtedly the greatest dividend in our historic relationship with the UK.
Life saving COVID 19 vaccines airlifted to Gibraltar by the Royal Air Force.
As a result, we become the first territory in the world to complete our full population vaccination programme thanks to the United Kingdom.
In that most challenging period,
When we were against the ropes,
When we had no other recourse,
It was our relationship with the United Kingdom that proved, literally, to be a life saver.
And not just for Gibraltarians.
But for workers in Gibraltar of all nationalities.
Additionally, we also secured a sovereign guarantee from HM Treasury in London to support our COVID borrowing up to £500m.
Because our debt is up and we are in deficit predominantly for one reason and one reason alone.
Because of COVID.
And in that context, the sovereign guarantee from the UK to an Overseas Territory is as unprecedented as it was important for us.
It enabled us to borrow the money that the Opposition and the Government in Gibraltar agreed to borrow.
A borrowing which the whole Gibraltar Parliament agreed.
And now that interest rates are rising, it is even more important to us.
I will therefore never tire of saying THANK YOU to our friends in the Foreign Office and in 10 & 11 Downing Street and in the whole of Parliament, for the support the Gibraltarians have had in this dangerous and challenging time.
It was Jesse Norman as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the then Chancellor, one Rishi Sunak, who signed off on that guarantee.
And our future business model is also based on an agreement with HM Treasury.
The agreement struck after the result of the referendum that the relationship between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom would not change after Brexit.
That we would still continue to give each other mutual market access as if we were still members of the Single Market.
That is based on the principle of equivalence of regulatory outcomes.
Of course, that was a perfect fit for Gibraltar.
Because, the only future we countenance for Gibraltar is a future of the highest standards of regulation.
A future where Gibraltar meets the most exacting international standards.
And delivering those standards and that competitiveness is what the United Kingdom expects from a mature and reliable partner like Gibraltar.
Because you know and I can assure you that, in Gibraltar, the adults have consistently been in charge since the arrival of Constitutional Government.
Each successive administration has understood, in their own way, the importance of our relationship with London both politically and commercial.
So, although I cannot predict the future, I can assure you of continued mature and rational administration in Gibraltar.
No dog whistle politics and no populism.
The people of Gibraltar see through that.
In fact, I can tell you we are now one of the most stable governments in Europe.
In turbulent times, there is nothing better for one of the smallest of the European territories than stability, efficiency and strong international relationships.
That is the importance of our strong relationship with the United Kingdom.
I am proud to say that our relationship is undoubtedly stronger than ever.
And that is where we hope to also position our future relationship with the EU and our neighbour Spain.
Away from the easy pejorative slogans of the past.
Moving to a mature and well thought out relationship that secures fluid movement of people across our frontier.
Creating even more shared prosperity in Gibraltar and the region around us.
We may be on the cusp of a historic deal that I hope will recast our relationship with both Europe and with modern Spain
I echo Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares’ hope that we are all committed to delivering a new Treaty that can put the spectres of the past behind us.
And I join our Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, in saying that we will play our part in ensuring that any agreement enhances security, encourages trade and delivers prosperity.
Always, respecting and not crossing each parties’ important concerns on sovereignty.
Fully respecting each parties’ jurisdiction and control.
Understanding and respecting the EU legal order.
In fact, we see a treaty with the EU as a lighting rod for investment in Gibraltar and the region around us.
So, finally, that rainbow of opportunities that we have long seen in the distance will deliver its elusive pot of gold to everyone on our Rock and in our region.
A safe and secure UK/EU treaty can make Gibraltar and the region around us a geopolitical pivot to Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and the mid-Atlantic.
That can be good for our people and our businesses.
I am optimistic that we can get there in coming weeks.
And even without a treaty, there will be much that we can continue to do.
We are of course planning for all eventualities and working as hard on both potential outcomes.
Not because our optimism is clouded in any way.
But because that is the only responsible way to act and to negotiate.
This week the Deputy Chief Minister is issuing a technical preparatory notice for a No Deal Outcome.
We all sincerely hope such technical notices will be able to gather dust on shelves for many years.
The brilliant negotiating teams for the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are doing an excellent job of dealing with all technical matters with their equally helpful, dedicated and brilliant Commission negotiating team.
Whitehall has really deployed all necessary resources for this negotiation to be a success.
As has Brussels.
So tonight, I want thank all those of you in Britain who love Gibraltar and who work alongside Gibraltar for your support throughout the pandemic period and in the post Brexit era.
I also want to reflect with you on the cancellation of our National Day events this year.
Undoubtedly, we have all been through our saddest September after the death of Her late Majesty The Queen.
I know we will all wish She rests in eternal peace.
In Gibraltar, Her loss was more keenly felt than anywhere else outside the British Isles.
If I may say so on his behalf, His Excellency the Governor and I were very proud to have represented the People of Gibraltar at Her late Majesty’s funeral.
It was a fitting reflection of her unparalleled life of service and dedication to the British family of nations and the Commonwealth.
And it was also an example of our Armed Forces ability to deliver ceremonially as well as they deliver operationally when called up to do so.
And so, today, given that it is the first time I speak publicly in the United Kingdom, since the passing of Her Majesty, I would ask you to join me tonight in a demonstration of the deep loyalty of the people of Gibraltar to the Crown and to His Majesty, King Charles III, in toasting: God Save The King.
Now, we are joined by a Minister who knows Gibraltar well.
He is the United Kingdom’s Minister for the Armed Forces and Veterans and a great friend of Gibraltar, James Heappey.