National Day celebrations bring political message
Saturday September 10th was National Day, a day of great celebration in Gibraltar, as thousands of people dressed in the Gibraltarian colours of red and white and partied the day away from early morning until late at night.
There was, however, a firm political message as well: “If Brexit means Brexit, then British means British. No means No. Never means Never. Gibraltar is British forever,” was the unequivocal message from chief minister Fabian Picardo at the political rally which was attended by thousands of people in Casemates Square, to uproarious approval from the crowd.
The event was also attended by 21 invited MPs and Friends of Gibraltar from the UK, but not all of them received a rousing welcome, especially those who had campaigned prior to the EU referendum to persuade Gibraltar that Brexit would be in their interests. In fact Jack Lopresti, the Conservative chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar in the House of Commons, was booed when he tried to defend Brexit. At the EU referendum in Gibraltar, 96 per cent of voters wanted Britain to remain in the EU.
September 10th 2016 marked 49 years since Gibraltarians voted overwhelmingly to remain British in their first sovereignty referendum. That determination to decide their own future is still very evident today, particularly with the prospect of having to leave the EU looming over them and pressure from Spain to agree to joint sovereignty in order to retain access to the single market. “If anyone thinks that we are going to sell our homeland for access to Europe, they don’t know the Gibraltarians,” said Mr Picardo in his address to the crowd.
The political scene may be complicated at present, but Gibraltarians know how to set their worries to one side and enjoy themselves and that is exactly what they did, with music, dancing, activities for children and a spectacular firework display to bring this special day to a close.
This year, however one much-loved traditional event was missing: it was decided to discontinue the release of hundreds of red and white balloons after the political rally, on environmental grounds. Still, there was an alternative: thousands of red and white petals were dropped from a helicopter instead.source surinenglsih