Aug 16 2013
Spanish people living around Gibraltar support the British territory rather than their own government in the latest row over border controls, its chief minister has claimed.
Fabian Picardo said he is in frequent "fluid" contact with local politicians in La Linea and other areas where the more than 4,000 Spaniards who work in the peninsula live.
Blaming the problems on the government in Madrid he said locals are supportive of Gibraltar as an "economic engine" and want to see an easing of the border restrictions.
He also warned that the fluctuating blockade could directly impact the already struggling Spanish economy if it goes on too long, with construction jobs that would normally go to Iberian workers being awarded elsewhere.
"I have no contact with Madrid, but I have a lot of fluid contact with mayors in La Linea and other municipalities in the area who are very concerned about the effect the controls being imposed by Madrid could have on the working lives of people who come in and out of Gibraltar every day," he said.
He added: "So often ... the people of Gibraltar and the people of La Linea and San Roque become the whipping boys for what may be happening in Madrid, which might be totally unrelated to us here. The municipalities in the area are hugely supportive of Gibraltar continuing to be an economic engine in the zone and the free flow of people and goods to and from Gibraltar is an important aspect of that.
"For example, we expect to be putting up a lot of affordable housing in the next two years, we would bring in a lot of Spanish labour for the purposes of building that housing. But of course if they can't get across the frontier we will have to bring in labour from elsewhere."
The Foreign Office is lodging a formal complaint with Spain over the latest "unacceptable" delays at the border with Gibraltar.
Officials are still considering a legal challenge to Spain over its imposition of additional border controls in the latest diplomatic spat between the two countries over the British Overseas Territory.
The Spanish action followed the construction by the Gibraltar authorities of an artificial reef which Madrid claims is designed to ruin fishing in the area.