In under a month, Gibraltarians will go to the polls in what will arguably be the most important vote we have cast since we voted against joint sovereignty in the 2002 referendum.
Sadly, it is an undeniable reality that, should the ‘Leave’ campaign succeed, Gibraltar will be at the mercy of Spain. The UK will be forced to negotiate new terms with the EU, and Spain will be gifted the opportunity of using us as a bargaining chip when it comes to acceding to those terms.
If we leave the EU, Spain will no longer have to be accountable for oppressing a fellow member state. We could very well find ourselves living in a closed border community again.
I have heard some people say that if the border were to close following a Brexit, our community would survive like we’ve done many times before under duress. I’ve also heard it said that ‘Stronger In’ campaigners are scaremongering over the repercussions of a Brexit.
Well, in my opinion, I have to say that we’re nowhere near scared enough.
The Gibraltar of the closed border years relied on the MoD base for 80% of its income. Its people lived on a diet of canned foods and three-week-old vegetables. Its youth worked in dockyard jobs and few aspired to further education or careers.
The main source of entertainment and leisure was driving around the Rock continuously with no escape, no exit. An island of three square miles.
Thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of generations of politicians, rights campaigners, trade unionists, lawyers, and ordinary people like you and me, we have come to know better times. Their memory deserves better than to lose everything we have fought for. Our youth deserves better than a future of bleakness and austerity. All because of the five seconds of satisfaction that it would give to ‘stick it’ to the EU.
You have been asked by campaigners to make sure that you’re on the register. That you turn up to vote and make sure others do too. We have to come out in force and make our voices heard, like only Gibraltarians voting in a referendum know how! Regardless of the overall outcome of the referendum, we must send the UK and the EU a very clear message. Gibraltar wants to remain. Gibraltar wants IN.
It is the duty of every Gibraltarian to call every aunt, nephew, cousin and grandfather in Bradford, Cornwall, Abergavenny or Fife, and tell them what a Brexit would mean for us. How we would suffer. This referendum is hanging on a knife edge – and the result can be determined by a SINGLE VOTE.
There will be no recount, no second chance.
Every voice matters. And you can be the difference.