18th March 2021, 12:25
The Chief Minister has written to the UK Home Secretary to confirm that reports in the media, claiming that Gibraltar was being considered as a potential location for processing asylum seekers, are groundless speculation.
In a statement, the Government says it has not received any proposals to this effect, adding Gibraltar legislation, not UK law, governs the presence of asylum seekers on the Rock.
This follows reports in the UK press stating that asylum seekers to the UK could in future be processed outside of mainland Britain, with the Home Secretary set to publish plans for an overhaul of the asylum and immigration system. The Times reports that Gibraltar and the Isle of Man have been discussed by officials, with overseas territories described as being "in the mix".
Number Six says matters relating to immigration to and from Gibraltar are the responsibility of Gibraltar Government ministers under the 2006 Constitution.
Number Six says in his letter to Priti Patel, Fabian Picardo has raised not only the constitutional and legal issues at stake, but has also emphasised Gibraltar's geographic limitations, and its potential new fluidity arrangements with the Schengen area, as reasons why it would be unable to host the processing of asylum seekers to the UK.
Fabian Picardo said Gibraltar will not ever shirk its responsibility to help where it can, but that had the issue of processing asylum seekers to the UK been raised with him at any level, he would have made clear that this is not an area on which it believes it can assist the UK. However, the Chief Minister said he has nonetheless wanted to emphasise to the Home Secretary that Gibraltar stands ready to help in other areas, and has suggested that he and Ms Patel meet when travel restrictions are lifted.