Since the EU referendum, the Spanish government has used the Leave result to revive its long-held sovereignty claim over the British territory.
It has even offered ‘The Rock’ a joint sovereignty deal as a means of Gibraltar keeping its ties with Brussels.
Almost 96 per cent of Gibraltarians voted to remain in the EU on June 23.
But Mr Picardo this morning suggested this was not due to an affection for the Brussels-based bloc, but because Gibraltar’s population were in fear of the reaction of Spain to a Brexit vote.
Speaking to the House of Commons’ Exiting the EU Select Committee, the Chief Minister insisted there was no chance of Gibraltar considering Spain’s sovereignty offer.
He said: “I've seen it said just this week in the Spanish press they consider their offer of joint sovereignty to Gibraltar is a ‘generous’ offer that would allow us to remain in the EU through Spain.
“The people of Gibraltar left the referendum and [the question of] leaving and remaining in the EU behind them on June 24, we are not looking to remain in the EU being partly Spanish.
“And the only way that somebody could describe that offer as generous would be to be entirely disingenuous.
“This is the generosity of the predator that thinks that its prey is finally prone and it's going to take the price it's been seeking to extract for the past 300 years.
“Neither the people of the UK nor the people of Gibraltar are a prey that is on its knees seeking any generous offer from the people of Spain.”
Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo blasted Spain over its sovereignty claim
We're not going to be accepting the payment of any price in our sovereignty, jurisdiction or control
Gibraltar's Chief Minister Fabian Picardo
Just hours after the EU referendum result, the Spanish government signalled it would use Britain’s EU exit negotiations to try and push its sovereignty claim over Gibraltar.
Madrid’s then foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo had claimed Brexit “opens up new possibilities” for Spain to take control of Gibraltar, adding: “The Spanish flag on the Rock is much closer than before”.
But Mr Picardo dismissed suggestions Gibraltar could become subject to Brexit negotiations.
He said: “We're not going to be accepting the payment of any price in our sovereignty, jurisdiction or control for our future participation with the UK in any trade deals with the EU.”
The Chief Minister also outlined how Prime Minister Theresa May’s ambition for a clean break from the EU, by leaving the bloc’s Single Market and Customs Union, had dealt a severe blow to Spain’s hopes of reviving the Gibraltar dispute.
He said: “The less that the UK seeks in the context of the Article 50 negotiation… then the harder it is for Spain to try and extract a price.”
Mr Picardo added a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit “ takes leverage away from those that might be trying to use that negotiation in some way to push the issue of Gibraltar”.
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Despite outlining how former UK governments had previously used Gibraltar as a bargaining chip in deals with Spain, Mr Picardo said: “I do not think the present British Government is anywhere near that sort of attitude, nor anybody in the British Parliament.
“I think there is widespread support for the people of Gibraltar and if Spain thinks the Government of the UK or indeed the people of Gibraltar haven't got the stomach to stand up for full exclusive British sovereignty going forward I think they're misreading the situation and what this negotiation is going be about.
“Gibraltar will pay any price, bear any burden and meet any hardship in the context of ensuring we have a future that is bright and exclusively British post-Brexit.”
Describing why Gibraltar voted almost unanimously to remain in the EU on June 23, Mr Picardo explained the threat of neighbouring Spain was at the forefront of Gibraltarians’ concerns.
He said: “The people in Gibraltar didn't vote on the basis of whether we liked the EU or whether the EU was faultless.
“I think we could all understand many of the issue that were being put in argument by those who were arguing to leave the EU.
“Many of the frustrations that people felt with the EU, those are equally felt in Gibraltar as they might be in the UK and elsewhere throughout the EU.
“The people of Gibraltar were voting because we were very clear that the minute the result came in, if it was to leave, Spain would be putting the issue of Gibraltar's sovereignty on the table.”
He added: “The view in Gibraltar, held almost unanimously to a man, woman and child, is that Brexit does not represent any change whatsoever in Gibraltar's attitude to continued perpetual British sovereignty over The Rock in partnership with the people of Gibraltar.”