General Election 2019: What Is The Political Mood In Gibraltar?

The British Overseas Territory is a peninsula which shares a border with Spain.

The British public heads to the polls on Thursday to cast votes which will influence the nature of Brexit and whether it happens at all.

On British Overseas Territory Gibraltar, 96% of people voted for the UK to remain part of the European Union (EU). 

More than 34,000 live on the peninsula which is self-governing, except for defence and foreign policy.

Gibraltarians are British citizens, but will not vote on 12 December, so just how closely are they following the election?

Gibraltarians are British citizens but will not be voting on 12 December.

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, told Forces News all UK general elections are important to the people there and that they will be watching very closely. 

"We are lucky because we have developed a very close working relationship with all the political parties across the spectrum in the United Kingdom," he said.

"In this particular case, there is the extra dimension of Brexit and the direction that Brexit takes in the future will be determined by who wins the election.

"That outcome will have a bearing on the future that Gibraltar faces in relation to our departure from the European Union."

However, one Gibraltarian woman said she would be paying less attention to the election.

"I've kind of tuned out, I think we've all got Brexit fatigue," she said.

"It's one of those things, I'm looking forward to Christmas and I don't really want to think too much about what's going on over there."

Barbary macaque monkeys in Gibraltar 11219 CREDIT BFBS
Gibraltar is home to Europe's only wild monkey population.

"Gibraltar's quite small and I think people can have very passionate views on politics and Brexit and other politics can be very divisive," said another local. 

"On the whole, the circles that I move in, people are just trying to avoid it [Brexit] and just not muck up any relationships or cause debates and disagreements." 

The territory has been under British rule since 1713 and its border with Spain is just over a mile long, although the Spanish insist they have a claim to sovereignty.

Dr Garcia said: "I think historically, Spain has always used the border as a political weapon against Gibraltar and that is why people here are very wary as to what may happen going forward.

"I need to say that Spain has also said that they do not want to cause any difficulties at the border for citizens on either side so we'll need to see what happens."

A red letterbox serves as one of the many pointers to British heritage in Gibraltar.

In the sea, there is also a boundary - half of the Strait of Gibraltar is constantly patrolled by the Royal Gibraltar Police Marine Section.

They carry out rescues, as well as tackling smuggling, trafficking and national security issues.

Sergeant Sean Reyes, Royal Gibraltar Police, said: "We do have a good relationship with them [Spain] at most times.

"Obviously, we're all here to fight one thing and we assist them with chasers that come into our waters."

As the UK heads to the polls, one thing is clear for Brits and Gibraltarians - what will happen with Brexit remains far from certain.