Small British territory of Gibraltar says it will 'be no victim of Brexit'

Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo at Gibraltar House in central London, Jan 25, 2017.
Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo at Gibraltar House in central London, Jan 25, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

GIBRALTAR (AFP) - Gibraltar will "be no victim of Brexit" and will adopt to a new reality outside of the European Union, the chief minister of the tiny British territory said on Wednesday (March 29).

Fabian Picardo also vowed to fight any attempt by Spain to gain more control over "the Rock" during negotiations over Britain's exit from the bloc.

"As far as we are concerned, this day brings us nothing to celebrate. But it also brings us nothing to fear and everything to fight for," he told parliament.

The tiny British overseas territory on Spain's southern tip has long been the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty row between London and Madrid, which wants Gibraltar back after it was ceded to Britain in 1713.

Spain has offered a co-sovereignty proposal that would allow Gibraltar to remain in the EU in exchange for shared sovereignty over the Rock.

But residents overwhelmingly voted to remain with Britain in two sovereignty referendums in 1967 and 2002.

Picardo reaffirmed Gibraltar's wish to remain British "now, during and after" the Brexit negotiations, insisting the territory's British sovereignty "is not in play".

"Gibraltar will be no-one's bargaining chip," he added.

Picardo said he hoped that the trade deals Britain hopes to negotiate with other countries around the world, including the United States, will also benefit Gibraltar.

"Indeed, we are in fact cautiously optimistic that we will be able to grow further and prosper even more in the future than we have in the past in the context of access to those new markets," he said.

Gibraltar has a population of around 32,000 and 96 per cent of the residents who voted in the Brexit referendum voted to remain in the EU.