John Bromfield was one of only 823 Gibraltarians who voted for Brexit during the 2016 EU referendum. The 75-year-old trader, who has lived in Gibraltar since 2005, spoke as the British Overseas Territory, Spain, the EU and Britain continue talks on its future trading relationship.
Mr Bromfield said that the “negotiations will be fraught with lots of difficulties” because of the number of competing interests of the different parties.
But he warned that the UK should never lose sight of Spain’s desire to “repatriate” Gibraltar.
The territory was ceded to Great Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
Spain claims this agreement is invalid and has claimed sovereignty over the Rock since the 1950s.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Bromfield said: “Spain has a very long-standing demand for Gibraltar to be Spanish and that must never be forgotten by anybody who is in a negotiating position with Spain.
“The negotiations are fraught with lots of difficulties. At the moment Spain has a soft socialist government.
“The British say they have red lines regarding sovereignty but underneath it, all Spain wants Gibraltar back and it’s one of those things.”
Mr Bromfield also said that Spain has a “huge” black market and uses its dispute with Gibraltar as a “distraction” from tough domestic issues.
He said: “Anytime it gets into issues they raise Gibraltar – the same as Argentina raises the Falklands whenever they have issues.”
Despite an exact deal has yet to be hammered out, Mr Bromfield said that closing the border would “hurt” Spain 500 times than the UK.
He previously told Express.co.uk that a recently installed “roll on, roll off” ramp in its port would allow cargo to be shipped in and out quickly.
This compares with the £1.3billion of exports Spain sent to Gibraltar in 2018.
He said: “I don’t think Spain could close the frontier.
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Mr Bromfield, who campaigned for Gibraltar to vote Leave, does admit that closing the Frontier is a worry for many of the Rock’s 30,000 inhabitants.
He says that Spain knows this, and plays on that fear.
But, despite the country’s desire to control Gibraltar, he says that in practical terms shutting the border would “cost Spain dearly”.
He explained: “They might threaten to close the Frontier because they know it worries Gibralterans but it wouldn’t make sense.
“Gibraltar is one of Spain’s biggest export markets and a lot of the goods they send there are high value ones.
“I think Spain could be difficult if they want. That’s what Gibraltarians have been concerned about since the referendum.
“Normally it’s fine but once every two years there’s a week or so if ‘political trigger’ which causes Spain to throw its toys out of the pram and be difficult.”
Gambling is a huge industry on the island – with 888.com being a major employer.
It runs both 888poker.com and 888sport.com and says its commitment to the Rock is “unwavering”.