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The Chief Minister’s National Day Speech 2023 – 625/2023

By September 10, 2023 No Comments

My dear fellow Gibraltarians,

 

No one looks better than you today.

 

You look GREAT in red and white.

 

Red, white and SMART!

 

Because today is the day of the Gibraltarians

 

The day of all residents of Gibraltar

 

The day of our ROCK and its people.

 

And so, today, I want to start by remembering those who cannot be in Casemates with us.

 

I want us all to give a very warm welcome to those watching us from St Bernard’s Hospital, from Calpe House in London or from hospitals outside Gibraltar.

 

I want us also to give a warm welcome to those watching from Mount Alvernia,

 

From the John Mac Wing,

Hillside,

Bishop Canilla House,

Albert Risso House

Seamaster Lodge or

Charles Bruzon House.

 

And welcome to any person who is at home today, through age or illness watching us on television.

 

To Gibraltarians around the world

 

We know you are with us.

 

In mind.

In determination.

AND in Gibraltarian spirit.

AND a big Gibraltar shout out and thank you also to the people working today to make this rally possible.

 

Thank you to all our law enforcement agencies, especially the Police who are keeping us safe.

 

Thank you to everyone in our essential services.

 

Thank you also to everyone who is working whilst we enjoy ourselves.

 

Especially those in security, and in the bars and restaurants that will feed our parties.

 

And to the men and women of GJBS who build this stage and who help us to build a better Gibraltar!

 

Thank you.

 

We could not do it without you.

 

Today I also want to remember in particular those who we have lost in Morocco to the earthquake.

 

Our thoughts are with them all.

 

Gibraltar is already working to help as much as we can.

 

The GHA is working to send a medical team,

 

And we will do more to help a neighbour that helped us when we needed them.

 

And now, on National Day every year, we also remember our beloved deceased Majesty, Elizabeth II,

 

Who died before our celebrations last year.

 

And King Charles III, now King of Gibraltar.

 

His Excellency the Governor, received a letter from the King where he asked him to convey to me and you the following message:

 

“I extend my warmest congratulations to you, Chief Minister, and the People of Gibraltar as Gibraltar marks its national day. 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. As you, and the people of Gibraltar, celebrate today, my wife joins me in sending you our very best wishes for the year ahead.

CHARLES III”

 

Thank you YOUR MAJESTY!

 

Thank you also to my fellow Overseas Territories Premiers for joining us today.

 

And to our beloved UK Parliamentarians, without whom we would have much less clout in London.

 

I want to specifically thank Sir Geoffrey Donaldson for being here representing Northern Ireland,

 

A place so close to our hearts, as our people were evacuated to that green and pleasant land during World War II.

 

And to Labour for the clear and unequivocal message from David Lammy.

 

Labour will NOT be any different in Government to the Conservatives when it comes to commitment to our sovereignty.

 

Let no-one south of London and north of Gibraltar think otherwise.

 

And thank you in particular to one of my best friends in politics,

 

One of our best advocates in London,

 

One of the best informed Foreign Secretaries I have ever worked with,

 

MY FRIEND

 

YOUR FRIEND

 

OUR FRIEND

 

JAMES CLEVERLY the British Foreign Secretary at Casemates today with his family to celebrate with us.

 

Now that is a first.

 

And also from the Prime Minister, a touching message in a letter I have received today

 

From RISHI SUNAK

 

Who tells us this:

 

“I would like to wish you and all the people of Gibraltar a very happy National Day.

 

“Last year’s National Day was marked by profound sadness following the passing of Her late Majesty The Queen. I know how strongly everyone in Gibraltar felt that loss.

 

“I hope that this year everyone in Gibraltar is able to enjoy National Day and celebrate with family and friends.

 

“National Day commemorates Gibraltar’s wish to remain under British sovereignty in the1967 referendum.

 

“Since then, Gibraltar has made clear to the international community its wish to remain British.

 

“I can assure you” – says the Prime Minister – “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 he goes on to say: “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.

 

“On Gibraltar’s National Day we celebrate that, and we look forward, together.

 

“Happy National Day to all”

 

Rishi Sunak

 

 

So, my dear friends

 

 

As I stand here today, with all of you before me, looking amazing in our blazing red and our brilliant white,

 

I am overjoyed that we are finally back home in Casemates, the home of National Day!

 

 

But there is a part of me and I know there is a part of you that IS NOT so overjoyed.

 

 

There is a part of me that, even today in this amazing celebration of the Great Gibraltarian story, is tinged with sadness, a sadness that will never leave us.

 

There is a part of ALL of us, I know, that longs for a loved one –

 

a MOTHER;

a FATHER;

a GRANDPARENT;

a FRIEND…

 

someone who was with us, here in Casemates, the last time we celebrated together, in 2019 but who isn’t with us today.

 

We all feel that void, a void that will never be filled,

 

of all who were here then,

 

but were lost to the cruelty of the pandemic.

 

Never in the modern history of Gibraltar had a moment so dark descended upon our people.

 

Never in the story of our wonderful home had we been called upon to rise up from such desperate depths.

 

Never before had we been called upon to face such a devastating loss.

 

Over 100 Gibraltarians lost to one brutal disease.

 

But face it we did.

 

With vaccines delivered on angel wings by the RAF from Britain

 

We rose up.

 

With support from our British family in London.

 

We answered the call.

 

We stood up in defiance of the bleakest darkness this community has ever faced.

 

We picked up the pieces of our broken hearts

 

and TOGETHER we resolved to come back stronger.

 

AND TODAY?

 

TODAY we shine a light of hope SO BRIGHT

 

that we KNOW that all those who were once with us in body, are with us in SPIRIT.

 

TODAY, they join us again in OUR HEARTS ONCE MORE,

 

To celebrate TOGETHER all the good that we TOGETHER ARE AND WE ALWAYS WILL BE!

 

They join us, and the HEROES of our health service and other essential services,

 

and EVERYONE else that pulled us through the darkness to celebrating our new future.

 

A FUTURE with a renewed sense of hope,

 

A new understanding of the value of life

 

And in an unwavering pursuit of our ambitions as a people.

 

The GREAT

 

INDOMINABLE

 

PEOPLE OF GIBRALTAR!

 

We honour them as we honour all those before them,

 

In particular the REFERENDUM GENERATION

 

THOSE WHO SAW OFF FRANCO

 

THOSE whose efforts,

 

whose resilience

 

And whose commitment to the Great CAUSE OF THE PEOPLE OF Gibraltar,

 

have made of this place MY, YOUR, OUR favourite place on Earth!

 

And this place,

 

This wonderful place we call home,

 

THIS PLACE belongs to us.

 

And ONLY to us!

 

And it will forever belong only to our children and our children’s children.

 

Like it belonged only to our forefathers who are buried in the sacred grounds of all our religions and none.

 

 

The pandemic might not have known any borders, pero nosotros estamos hasta la sopa de borders.

 

If the politicians in the UK wanted to GET BREXIT DONE, you can’t imagine what I want Brexit done to be like, seven years on!

 

No one has worked more than us to get a safe and secure deal done.

 

In partnership with our UK brothers, we are almost there. 

 

AFTER TWO YEARS OF NEGOTIATION, WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF A GREAT DEAL FOR GIBRALTAR.

 

BUT LET’S BE CLEAR.

 

NO DEAL IS WORTH GIVING UP ANY PART OF OUR SOVEREIGNTY.

 

SO LET ME SAY ONE THING to whoever has to hear it.

 

I have been in politics for THIRTY YEARS in Gibraltar.

 

I have spent THIRTY YEARS defending the rights of Gibraltarians to determine their own future.

 

I have spent THIRTY YEARS declaring that we will not concede of drop of water, one breath of air or one grain of sand.

 

I have been in politics in Gibraltar for THIRTY YEARS waiting for that one moment when this Socialist Chief Minister would be called upon to proudly quote Mrs Thatcher and say:

 

  1.  

 

  1.  

 

  1.  

 

TO ANYONE who demands any concession of any kind from Gibraltar.

 

Let me tell you.

 

That time has come and gone.

 

Our position is clear.

 

Our position is understood.

 

Our position is unshakeable.

 

We will work together to achieve an area of shared prosperity, of course.

 

We will work together to maintain fluidity at the border, of course.

 

We will work together to the benefit of citizens on both sides of the frontier, of course.

 

BUT ALWAYS without a single concession on sovereignty or the element of sovereignty.

 

Saying NO to those who claim our land is part of the job description of being Chief Minister of Gibraltar.

 

Believe me, I have known when to say no on your behalf.

 

Just as I will know when to say yes.

Because I know that we can build this dream together, 

 

I know that we are standing strong together,

 

And I know that nothing is going to stop us now.

 

And, I also know that,

 

if you decide, later this year, that this is the last time I have the privilege of speaking to you from this stage, as your Chief Minister,

 

I thank you all for having given me the honour of my life.

 

Because it is my honour to serve you.

 

It is my honour to represent you,

 

And it is my honour to defend us all together.

 

And, if you decide, I will continue to fight our corner.

 

And if not,

 

Wherever I am,

 

Whatever I do,

 

You know I will continue to work to ensure

 

That Gibraltar will FOREVER be

 

THE ROCK OF THE GIBRALTARIANS

 

RED WHITE and BLUE.

 

RED WHITE and PROUD.

 

RED WHITE AND FREE!

 

 

I LOVE YOU, GIBRALTAR!