48 hours after Brexit...

Sunday 2nd February - Christine Vasquez

The UK left the EU on Friday.

With the Gibraltar International Chess Festival still on my mind, I visualise the Brexit board where all sides scramble to position their pieces, hoping to dominate the game from the start. And timing, like in chess, is of the essence.

Brexit negotiations begin on Monday. Luckily there’s a handy weekend before that: two days for setting down indelible red lines and for bravado and posturing in the International media: the standing of ground-before the game moves to the realpolitik stage with meeker tactics, diplomacy and a softening of stance.

In Ireland, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar warns against the setting of red lines, asking for a toning down of nationalistic rhetoric.

From Boris Johnson’s tough, going-for-broke stance ahead of the trade talks we get the impression the UK is not happy-It feels the EU is moving the goalposts.

So what is the Prime Minister’s move to gain an advantage? He’s preparing to impose full customs and border checks for entering the UK. Yes! He will not accept alignment with EU rules when Britain negotiates a trade deal with Brussels- It’s a Canada style deal or the UK walks away!

Next move from the EU- tomorrow the Chief negotiator, Michel Barnier will set out his approach to the talks, which are due to start next month. The draft mandate will state that Madrid be given the power to exclude Gibraltar from any deal struck with Brussels.

The FCO maintains its position: “The UK will not exclude Gibraltar from our negotiations in relation to our future relationship with the EU. We will negotiate on behalf of the whole UK family, which includes Gibraltar.”

With the bold moves played, the strategy begins. Objectives: agreeing a trade deal with the EU, trade in goods and services, security, data protection and aviation and maybe, just maybe, the small matter of having to prove to the British people that the turmoil of the last three and a half years - when the political system was threatened, good politicians were lost along the way, a country was divided and the Union was put in jeopardy - was worth it.