ROCK: Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has said he would not hold a general election before Brexit (credit: Gibraltar Chronicle)

FABIAN Picardo has said he would not hold a general election until the UK and Gibraltar have left the European Union.

The Chief Minister said a pre-Brexit election would be ‘irresponsible’, despite the ‘potential partisan advantage’ in doing so.

Despite a recent Panorama poll putting Picardo and the GSLP ahead, the Rock’s leader batted down calls for an early general election.

In an interview with the Gibraltar Chronicle he also said he would not rule out a second referendum, but admitted Gibraltar would cooperate with the UK government.

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He said: “As long as that [Brexit] is not extended after March, I can rule out the possibility of an election before the 29th of March this year.”

Acknowledging his party’s advantageous position, he admitted it was more important to make preparations for the potential ‘context of a hard Brexit’.

Picardo’s comments come against a backdrop of Brexit turmoil in the UK, where Theresa May faces a Commons vote on her Brexit deal next week.

The Prime Minister is expected to lose the vote on her Withdrawal Agreement set to be held in Parliament on January 15.

Meanwhile she has said this week that she is seeking further assurances from the European Union in a bid to gain support for her Brexit deal.

But Labour have accused May and some ministers of trying to ‘run down the clock’ to try and get the UK to accept a bad deal.

May will be boosted by the support of Picardo however, who has been one of the consistent supporters in her Brexit negotiations.

Picardo said: “It is safer for Gibraltar to remain [in the EU], but if the UK is fixed on leaving, our role must be to ensure the protection for Gibraltar in the context of that leaving.”