A few days after a majority of Britons backed Brexit in June 2016, this newspaper reported that Nicola Sturgeon had been in talks with London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo.

Their respective polities had all voted – unlike England and Wales – to stay in the European Union, and all three leaders were determined to limit any economic fall-out. Picardo even told Gibraltar’s parliament he and the First Minister enjoyed “a common purpose”.

When I caught up with the Chief Minister in Gibraltar last week, however, I found that his position had changed, and in quite an interesting way. “We can take the route of Scotland and confront the Prime Minister on every step she takes”, he told the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation last year, “or we can take the route that we’ve taken.”

In other words, Picardo – unlike the First Minister – has learned to stop worrying and if not love Brexit, certainly fear it a little less. He once warned of an “existential threat” to Gibraltar’s “economic model”, one dominated by financial services, but after commissioning post-Brexit analysis he was “surprised” to discover the vast majority (92 per cent) of the British Overseas Territory’s activity within the EU single market was with the United Kingdom.

The Chief Minister provided a vivid example: two out of every five motor insurance policies in the UK are sold by insurance operators based in Gibraltar. So, the single market is certainly important, but primarily in terms of facilitating access to the UK. “England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were not open markets for Gibraltar,” Picardo told me, “until Europe opened the door for us through the single market.”

It thus became clear what Gibraltar had to do was “secure access to the United Kingdom market”. Now Scotland isn’t Gibraltar, but this is interesting because it highlights an economic argument prosecuted by British Unionists, mainly the Scottish Conservatives, since June 2016, that the most important market for Scotland is the UK rather than the EU, perhaps four times as much.

Both, obviously, are important, but it’s a question of degree. On this point the SNP ties itself in knots, arguing that leaving the EU single market will be catastrophic, but that independence wouldn’t involve severing Scotland’s links with the UK’s internal market. So, on the one hand it indulges in what it once called “Project Fear”, and on the other channels the sunny optimism of Brexiters. This is otherwise known as trying to have your cake and eat it.

Faced with a similar analysis, Picardo “considerably” altered his view, while Sturgeon has doubled down on her (in itself perfectly reasonable) goal of keeping Scotland within the single market. The Chief Minister now wants the EU to view Gibraltar and the UK as a “single state” in negotiating terms, while the First Minister maintains a fall-back position of a “differentiated” arrangement for Scotland, even if it remains part of the UK.

And what underpins this divergence in the Sturgeon/Picardo “common” front of summer 2016 is even more interesting. The Chief Minister of Gibraltar is, after all, a Unionist; he talks of Brexit enabling Gibraltarians to “renew their vows of Britishness” by leaving the EU with the UK and rejecting renewed attempts by Spain to “pool” sovereignty over the Territory in the process. “That will linger forever,” he told me, “as another moment of decision where the people of Gibraltar decided to stay British.”

Such talk is, of course, anathema to the leader of the Scottish National Party. And despite his loyalty to the imperial metropole, Picardo is pragmatic when it comes to the First Minister’s different approach. Unlike Scotland, he explained, Gibraltar doesn’t occupy the same “political space” as the UK Government or Conservative Party and thus is not in competition with them.

“Gibraltar is very clear we want to continue with very close alignment with the European Union in respect of areas of social policy, areas of economic and environmental policy,” Picardo told me. “And when we say those things they’re not as shocking to readers of the Daily Mail, the Express and The Herald because they’re not said in the same political space…we have our political exchanges here with our own opposition parties.”

Nor is Picardo’s aim, unlike his fraternal partners in the UK Labour Party, to bring down the incumbent Prime Minister. He was also full of praise for Nicola Sturgeon and her ability to “project the concerns” of Scotland “in a way that has been understood throughout the European Union”. “I don’t think you could ask for more than that,” he said. “That’s her job and she’s done it.”

Picardo was less generous towards certain Tory MPs, although he didn’t name them. The Chief Minister still thinks the prospect of a “train wreck” deal can’t be fully discarded, and warned that “egos” and “political ambitions” shouldn’t get in the way of a workable agreement, which would inevitably be “imperfect”. Achieving that, he added, was a challenge that’d “sap the energy of a political generation”, but one the referendum result obliged all those concerned to “fulfil”.

I suspect the Scottish Government wouldn’t demur much from that, nor what Picardo believes produced the Brexit vote, “a lack of understanding of the reality” of what the EU is, upon which was “lacquered” the “prejudices” of many who wanted out for other reasons together with “a pretence that they cared about the common working man”.

There was a lot of lacquering around in 2014 too, but making a (relative) success of Brexit demands compromise, however unpalatable. Neither the UK nor the EU, declared the Prime Minister on Friday, “can have exactly what we want” from the ongoing negotiations. Gibraltar and Scotland highlight two very different approaches, and something tells me one will be more successful than the other.