Gibraltar’s government is considering chartering an aeroplane to bring in food and medicines after concerns that a no-deal Brexit could bring about a ‘situation of siege’.
The rock’s top officials warned a no-deal Brexit will radically affect the delivery of fresh food and pharmaceuticals not produced on the rock, waste disposal, as well as the free movement of people across the border.
The no-deal planning was described as “costly and complex” by a group of MEPs, peers and NI Assembly members who visited Gibraltar’s leaders.
Deputy chief minister Joseph Garcia explained that food coming from the UK will both have to enter and exit EU territory to reach Gibraltar, facing thorough checks at each stage.
“There is no certainty as to what framework the Spanish will work under after Brexit,” he said. “Normally, 300 trucks a day come into Gibraltar, 30 of them bringing perishable goods.
“We are exploring the costs of chartering a plane or ferry to bring food in if necessary, as a last resort, and fresh goods by sea from Portugal.”
Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabien Picardo said that Gibraltar can survive a no-deal Brexit because the rock can produce its own water and electricity. “But just because we know how to survive in a situation of siege, does not mean we want to do it again,” he said.
The ‘siege’ concern stems from the blockade imposed by Spanish dictator General Franco between 1967 and 1982, when the rock was accessible to ordinary people only by sea.
Picardo has previously called for Article 50 to be revoked.
Liberal Democrat MEP for the South West and Gibraltar Caroline Voaden also raised the problem of waste processing, saying she had learned the 100,000 tonnes of waste it annually produces is normally processed in Spain. “To think they may have to store their rubbish for up to a year under the majestic rock is preposterous.”
She also said: “This is the first time since 1948 that a logistical exercise of this scale will be needed to bring fresh food and medicines to people in Europe. Gibraltar is preparing for the worst case scenario.”
Voaden concluded: “The UK government’s own assessment in the leaked Yellowhammer report warned of several hours’ delay for tens of thousands of residents and workers who cross the border delay, as well as major disruption to the flow of goods that will harm the economy.
“How is it right or democratic for the UK government to create such hardship in a territory that voted to remain in the EU by a massive 96% majority?”