Does Mr Picardo really want to make the next election about his failures?
The only disciple of Donald Trump is Mr Picardo. He is a devout follower of the tactics of misinformation and half- truths.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “On Brexit people are tired of being sold the line that we are so close to an agreement that doesn’t happen. Just on Tuesday he said that he was “close enough to taste that treaty…” In fact, however Mr Picardo has admitted in Parliament just a few weeks ago that the parties are not even at the stage of having exchanged a draft prepared treaty. He accepted they are still trying to unblock principles for a deal. The reality is that what people have seen over the last 7 years is a track record of failure despite promises.”
There are several examples of this. There was a failure to negotiate enduring rights of movement for 35,000 Gibraltar residents when those for 15,000 cross frontier workers were given away. Mr Picardo agreed a permanent and concessionary Tax Treaty with Spain which is harmful to inward investment and treats some Gibraltar residents and Gibraltar companies as if they lived or operated in Spain when they don’t. That tax treaty was sold to Gibraltar by Mr Picardo in 2019 on the basis that within 2 years of implementation Spain would take Gibraltar off their blacklist. We are still on the Spanish blacklist. There has been a failure to protect Blue ID card holders despite the promises to maintain their unhindered freedom of movement across the border during negotiations. Above all there has been a failure to get a safe and beneficial agreement to end the uncertainty which impacts on people, quality of life and business.
Mr Azopardi added: “The cult of the indispensable doesn’t wash and isn’t true. Mr Picardo has failed over the last few years to deliver what he promised on so many fronts. Why should people re-elect him on a track record of failure. Does he really want to make the next election about that?”
As for the burning domestic issues it is obvious that he is running scared on so many issues. His recently acquired fad of describing Mr Azopardi as part of Team McGrail is just another of his trumpian phrases. The fact that he speaks in those terms is because he must think that there is a Team Picardo. That would be a deep and dangerous mistake. He is the Chief Minister of Gibraltar for now. That kind of language speaks to the usual GSLP style of considering that people are either with them or against them.
This is not a simplistic issue. It is obvious that both Mr McGrail and Mr Picardo are at the centre of the Inquiry. Both face allegations. This is not about teams – it is about the truth and ensuring also that the Government and its Ministers do not abuse their power, respect our institutions and also exercise their roles in a measured, responsible, accountable and dispassionate way. What seems clear is that Mr Picardo has been unable to distance himself from the evidence- gathering against Mr McGrail. That is not to his credit and has, once again, called into question not only the appropriateness of his actions but whether he is capable of conducting his role in a way that keeps in mind the need to allow the Inquiry to run its course without him looking as if he is the cheerleader for those seeking to make allegations against Mr McGrail. In the end that is not a good look for a Chief Minister accused of wrong doing by Mr McGrail when the Inquiry Chairman has not yet investigated those facts one way or the other. That is a self-inflicted reality however much Mr Picardo wants to distract from that.