46-year-old Simon Manley has been representing the Queen of England and British Government in Spain for four months. Over his visit to 1-1-2 Emergency Call Center in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria last February, Manley revealed the latest state of relations between Gibraltar, Spain and the United Kingdom.
British Ambassador to Spain
“The queue delays on the border with Gibraltar are politically motivated”
LA PROVINCIA / LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA, 4 February 2014
The conflict between Spain and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar seems to be relentless. How is the situation right now, [how are] the talks [going]?
We have a very wide relationship between both countries in that context. Almost 50 billion euros of Spanish companies and the UK economy, increasing number of British companies willing to export to and invest in Spain as Spain emerges from the economic crisis of the last few years. We have a extraordinary security cooperation between the two countries, and yes, we have our differences over Gibraltar and we are concerned about the queues that continue to occur quite often on our border between Gibraltar and Spain. I think those border delays are politically motivated, and we are keen to find ways to address issues of common concern of the Government of Spain, Government of Gibraltar and Government of United Kingdom, in a way that is sort of sensible and focused on the problems and ways of resolving them, and that’s what we are trying to do.
Given the tense relationship over the strict controls on the border on the 17th and 18 th of February, representatives will travel to Brussels to come to an agreement over those controls. Could you go further?
I think there have been various protests, including last week I think in Brussels, by the concerns of Gibraltar public, Spanish public, worried about the controls on the border and the effect that it has got to cross whether Spanish nationals want to work in Gibraltar o Gibraltarians want to go shopping and live on the other side of border. At the end of the day, those issues are trying to resolve the border dispute. Raised with the European Commission and European Commission is like recommendations which the Government of Gibraltar is pursuing and we have the Government to Spain pursuing as well and we hope that we can work with the Government of Spain and with the Government of Gibraltar to reduce the queues and delays on the border and in the interest of not just the people of Gibraltar but those Spanish citizens who want to come and work in Gibraltar and a decent living.
“The Spanish nationals that come to the UK to study or work are welcomed”
So will this meeting be relevant to solve it?
I’m not sure if the meeting by the trade unions is directly related to that. I think it’s part of a process in which the number of individuals and groups within Gibraltar and within communities in Gibraltar and La Línea [de la Concepción] have expressed their concern about the situation.
Is it deemed positive or negative from a political point of view and also from the general public perspective the emigration of Spanish students since the economic downturn occurred?
There are increasing numbers of Spanish nationals coming to the UK and I think, as we made clear, those people who are coming to the UK to study or work are very much welcomed. And we work on the contribution that the Spanish workers are working, whether they are working in the city of London, by the Canary Wolf, or in other parts of the British economy. I think they just come to work and don’t look for benefits. And those who come to work in the UK will be part of the buzzling, creative and dynamic British economy, the fastest growing economy in the G-7 this year, are welcomed.
And last but not least, will Scotland eventually get the independence from the UK?
On the 18th of september, British Government is absolutely clear that we want Scotland to remain a part of the UK. We believe the story of Scotlands and the United Kingdom over the last 207 years is being an extraordinary success and we want that success to continue.