Gibraltar After Brexit: What's The British Overseas Territory's Future?

Britain has left the European Union, but what will the long-term impact on UK personnel based in Gibraltar be?

Many of those stationed at the peninsula, off the south coast of Spain, cross the mile-long border into the country as part of everyday forces life.

As the territory has left the bloc with the rest of Britain, familiar questions of border frictions have surfaced.

"We've done a lot of work in preparation for Brexit - in the reasonably worst-case space," Commodore Tim Henry, Commander British Forces in Gibraltar, said.

Military personnel join 15,000 people entering Gibraltar from Spain every day. 

"I have some people that go to Spain, I have some people that live in Spain," said Cdre Henry.

"That's the nature of Gibraltar and its relationship with the region across the frontier."

The Commodore pointed toward minimal impact on the lives of resident forces, at least in 2020.

British personnel are among thousands to cross the border into Spain.
British personnel are among thousands to cross the border into Spain daily.

"Very little, if anything, changes on the day-to-day business" of personnel are also to be expected during an 11-month transitional period, he said.

The 2016 EU referendum saw 96% of Gibraltar vote to remain. 

The UK government will have until the end of December to nail down a partnership deal with EU negotiators.

Essentially serving as an extension to life as an EU member-state, little change is expected to British military and civilian life within this time. 

Although the Commodore himself admitted to keeping larger stocks as a contingency plan, he is confident in towing the official line of Gibraltar.

"I've probably got a little bit more food in for the dogs than we'd originally planned," he said.

"But, fundamentally, I rely on Gibraltar - Gibraltar says it's ready, and therefore, I'm ready."

Concern over Brexit border friction has peaked in Northern Ireland, but many in Gibraltar are waiting until 2021 to see what reality hits.

On the ground, many residents are resisting Brexit concern until 2021 - one speculating that some businesses will simply work from home in the initial transitional weeks.

The Royal Gibraltar Regiment is the only British Army unit in the territory, while the Royal Navy's Gibraltar Squadron is made up of two Fast Patrol Boats - HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar.

There is also RAF Gibraltar - located on the north of the peninsula between the Spanish border and the famous Rock.

Gibraltar has been British since 1714 and has become an important asset to British defence.

During World War Two, it was as an air and naval base for the Allied invasion of North Africa just eight miles away.

Nowadays, its location means it is in the ideal spot to observe shipping channels and most recently, Royal Marines detained an Iranian ship accused of carrying crude oil to Syria, in breach of EU sanctions.

Spain insists the peninsula has a claim to sovereignty.

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