Gibraltar will mark our departure from the European Union tomorrow with a short and solemn ceremony at midnight.

The focus of the ceremony will be the three flagpoles at the northern end of Gibraltar which are located just a few metres from our land border with the EU.

The flag of the European Union will be lowered at midnight to the tune of “Ode for Joy”, which is the EU anthem, as a sign of respect and affection to Europe. It will be immediately replaced by the flag of the Commonwealth which will be raised to the tune of the National Anthem, “God Save The Queen”. The ceremony will then come to an end.

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo will receive the EU flag when it is lowered, and the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, who is the Minister for relations with Europe and the Commonwealth, will hand over the Commonwealth flag. This will happen in the presence of His Excellency the Governor Lt General Edward Davis as well as the Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament Melvyn Farrell and the Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi.

The music will be provided by the Gibraltar Band and Drums Association.

Due to extremely limited space at the frontier, members of the public are asked not to go to the frontier at midnight and to instead watch the ceremony live on GBC Television. Before the event, at 2030hrs, the Chief Minister will deliver a Ministerial Statement on GBC Television.

The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia said:

This is the end of an era. There are many whose memory only stretches back to the time when UK and Gibraltar were both in the EU. However, we are determined to make a success of our departure and to overcome any challenge that may come our way as we have done throughout our long and turbulent history. It is right and proper that we should intensify our relationship with the Commonwealth and the raising of this flag at all Government sites and offices will send a powerful message.

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said:

In the 2016 referendum, the people of Gibraltar voted 96% to remain in the European Union. The Government has therefore chosen to mark our departure from the EU in a way which is appropriate and relevant.

The inclusion of Gibraltar in the Withdrawal Agreement, including in the transition period, means that at this time very little will actually change for the ordinary citizen, including fluidity across the border.

We want to continue to interact with citizens and businesses in the EU and all parties need to ensure that those bonds are not disrupted by our departure. The present prosperity that Gibraltar already generates for many thousands of businesses and persons must continue to thrive and to grow in the future.

Gibraltar can look forward to that future with confidence.