British PM flying to Gibraltar to campaign against Brexit

Fabian Picardo met David Cameron in Downing Street in 2013.

Fabian Picardo met David Cameron in Downing Street in 2013.

Spain complains about David Cameron’s visit, the first by a serving prime minister of the UK since 1968

British Prime Minister David Cameron is scheduled to travel to Gibraltar on Thursday to campaign in favor of remaining within the European Union, just one week ahead of Britain’s pivotal referendum on UK’s permanence in the union.

It will be the first visit to The Rock by a serving prime minister of Britain since 1968.

The “Gibraltar Stronger In” campaign said that Cameron will participate in a public event at 5pm alongside Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, the leader of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party.

The “Gibraltar Stronger In” campaign said that Cameron will participate in a public event at 5pm alongside Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, the leader of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party.

Spain’s acting justice minister, Rafael Catalá, has admitted that a Brexit would force Spain to “completely reconsider” its relationship with Gibraltar

The British PM is also expected to hold a press conference and to be interviewed by a local television station.

The Spanish government expressed its displeasure on Wednesday, shortly after Cameron’s visit was confirmed. Sources within the acting Popular Party (PP) administration said that it was informed by Cameron’s team that the British prime minister would be in Gibraltar for two hours.

“The government does not like Mr Cameron going to Gibraltar,” said Spanish acting PM Mariano Rajoy in a radio interview. “What’s being debated is whether the UK remains in the EU or leaves the EU, and the campaign for that should be conducted in the UK, not in Gibraltar.”

Brexit wins or loses, “Spain continues to think that Gibraltar is part of its own national territory, not Britain’s.”

But Fabian Picardo called the visit “historic.”

“It demonstrates the commitment to Gibraltar that Mr Cameron has displayed since we were first elected,” the Chief Minister told the Gibraltar Chronicle.

Gibraltarians are expected to vote massively in favor of remaining within the EU. Picardo has described the referendum as “a political meteorite aimed at Gibraltar,” and Brexit as potentially “disastrous” for the local economy.

Nearly 23,000 out of the 32,000 residents are being asked to vote on June 23, even though they do not vote in Britain’s general elections. Gibraltar is the only overseas territory that joined the European Economic Union in 1973 along with the UK, and the only overseas territory with the right to vote on Brexit.

Spain’s acting justice minister, Rafael Catalá, has admitted that a Brexit “would open up a new scenario” of redefined European borders, and that this fact would force Spain to “completely reconsider” its relationship with Gibraltar.

Published elpais 16 June 2016

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