Where do we go from here? 

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Wow I really didn’t see that coming. I went to bed last night expecting to wake up a fully paid up member of the EU. I feel so shocked and sad that things have turned out the way they have.

Gibraltar got a bit of coverage during the Referendum campaigning with major international news organisations coming over to gauge the mood here. Even I got interviewed by the BBC (not an everyday occurrence in my world). For those of you who live beyond the shores of Gibraltar, you may already know that for us the impact of a Brexit is huge, but here’s a brief outline of what concerns us at the moment.

Apart from voters in Northern Ireland, we are closer than most other UK citizens to Europe. We can see it from our windows, it’s literally on our doorstep in the form of our nearest neighbour, Spain. By staying in the EU, Gibraltarians believed their rights would be much better protected by European law – particularly in relation to the border. In recent weeks there have been threats in the Spanish media that if Brexit were to happen, the land border we share with Spain would be closed. We are now left wondering whether that will become a reality?

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The Rock of Gibraltar with Spain behind

For Gibraltarians it isn’t an idle threat, the border was closed by General Franco in 1969 and remained blocked for 13 years. During the time of the frontier closure families were split up and kept apart. The only way to get over to Spain was to catch a ferry to another continent (Africa)  and then get a second one across to Spain.

If a border closure were to happen again it would impact on all of us living here and a great many on the other side of the border. Thousands of people who work in Gibraltar live in Spain. Plus there’s the everyday basics like how do you get food into the shops if your only land border is closed?

 

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Europa Point Lighthouse with Morocco in the distance

During the years of the closed border, Morocco came to the aid of the people of Gibraltar. Many Moroccans came here to work and filled the gaps left by the cross-border Spanish workers. Morocco also became a major source of food and supplies during the years of the closed frontier. A lot of the families who came here remain in Gibraltar and add to the diverse and tolerant community we enjoy today.

In the hours since the news of the Leave result broke there has been much debate about what will happen next, some of it coming from across the border. Spain is reported to be reinforcing it’s belief that sovereignty of the Rock belongs to them and not Britain.

Last week, David Cameron felt it important enough to give Gibraltar it’s first Prime Ministerial visit since 1968. One week before polling day, he became the first serving British Prime Minister to visit the Rock since Harold Wilson. What’s more significant is that he is the first one ever to come specifically to discuss an issue which directly affects Gibraltar.

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Over 24,100 Gibraltar residents registered to vote in the EU referendum and many turned out last week to see the Prime Minister and hear what he had to say. He flew in by private jet and held talks with local decision makers. A reasonably large press pack came too.

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There was a real buzz in the air and many people from all walks of life turned out to see what the PM had to say about Gibraltar and about Europe. The Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo called on everyone to come down to Casemates Square and give our visitor “the greatest ever Gibraltarian welcome”.

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Very sadly, the rally which we had all turned up for was cancelled at the last minute due to the awful attack on Labour MP Jo Cox in the north of England. As news filtered through about the shocking events in West Yorkshire and the fact that campaigning was to be suspended as a mark of respect, the crowds began to drift away from Casemates Square. The fizzing excitement of moments before gave way to a stunned disappointment and shock.

During his visit, David Cameron met with senior local politicians and it’s reported that discussions covered both possible referendum outcomes and what it would mean for the UK’s responsibilities to Gibraltar. Whether those assurances still hold once he has left his post in October remains to be seen.

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One week on and 84% of the Gibraltar electorate turned out to vote in the EU Referendum. 96% of those voters chose the option to remain in the EU. Last night I thought it was a marvellous example of democracy at work, not that it helped us a great deal.

This morning on the school run many of the parents were bleary eyed after staying up much of the night to watch the results come in. Clutching strong coffees and shaking their heads in disbelief there was a real air of despondency and worry about what the future holds for us here on the Rock.

One father joked that he might as well just sell his car as trips to Spain could be about to get tricky. A mother who works for a UK gaming company said that her firm’s HR department were holding emergency talks this morning to try and figure out how to help their many cross-border workers should there be tensions at the border. They didn’t have a plan in place because they didn’t believe it would happen. Fears about the local job market were voiced, while others discussed whether their summer holidays to Europe would now require them to have a visa.

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No one knows what the future holds for the UK as a whole following this referendum result but for those of us at the southern most tip of Europe, we feel we are very much at the sharp end. Gibraltar woke up under a cloud this morning, and for once it wasn’t caused by the usual levanter winds, this one was sent by the UK electorate.

 

Sunday Sevens #36 19.6.16

Queen’s Birthday bank holiday

We had an extra bank holiday on Monday which you don’t get in the UK. To celebrate the Queen’s official birthday in June, we get a day off. It’s not just because it was a special birthday this year – we always get one. It also marked the beginning of summer hours at school. On Tuesday the little Postcards finished at lunchtime and will continue to do so until term ends in four weeks’ time – that means my crafting time has been severely depleted but the plus side is I don’t need to make any more packed lunches until September! 

Dressmaking class


The invisible zip is IN. I’m really enjoying making this skirt, firstly because it’s to be worn at two family weddings next year (nice occasions which are a long way off – so no pressure) and the fabric’s so easy to sew. It’s crisp and the seams look so neat plus it doesn’t fray. The lining on the other hand…. the less said about that the better!!

#7000 woolly hearts for Yarndale challenge


You may remember a few months back I hooked up some woolly hearts and sent them to a lovely lady known as @bonnies_little_crafts on Instagram. She lives in the town of Skipton which plays host to the Yarndale festival each September. This year she has set herself (and anyone else who wants to get involved) the task of crocheting 7000 little woolly hearts to give away to visitors to her home town when they attend the yarny festival this year. I started my second stash this week while the little Postcards were splashing about in the pool.

A prime ministerial visit


Thursday saw an historic moment in Gibraltar’s history, David Cameron became the first serving Prime Minister to visit since Harold Wilson. Sadly a huge rally which had been planned to raise the issues facing Gibraltar with regards to the EU Referendum had to be cancelled following the horrific events in Leeds which led to the death of mother and MP, Jo Cox. 

Security was extremely tight around town for the few hours he spent on the Rock with police officers stationed on most road junctions. This was the scene outside the Rock Hotel where the PM held talks with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo and other local politicians. I never knew there were so many machine guns in Gibraltar before this!

A bit of painting

It has been ages since I got my paints out and I had a spare few minutes on Friday before picking the boys up from school, so had a go at a few more freesias. This is going on a special birthday card for a very special lady. 

A weekend away


On Friday I did something I’ve been looking forward to for ages, I got on a plane on my own and came to visit my Mum and Dad. I’ve not been back to England since August last year and I’ve really missed seeing my family. The trip had been on the cards since January but kept being put back for various reasons. Finally the day arrived. It was worth the wait! It also coincided with Father’s Day. I am able to spend it with my Dad for the first time in years. 

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Nothing says home to me like my Dad’s aquarium. It’s been bubbling away in the my parents’ dining room since before I sat at the dining table studying for my A-Levels. Once home to tropical fish and beautiful blue striped Neon Tetras (my favourites) these lovely goldfish are now in residence. The noise of the pump has been a constant soundtrack to mealtimes back in my childhood home. 

Wherever you are this Father’s Day, I hope it is a happy one for you.

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series devised by Natalie at  Threads & Bobbins blog.