Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fourth Report


124. We were left in no doubt from our visit to Gibraltar, and from Mr Caruana's evidence, that the people of Gibraltar will not capitulate under pressure.[295] All such pressure does is to harden attitudes against Spain. We are equally sure that neither this nor any other British Government will allow the sovereignty of Gibraltar to pass to Spain unless the people of Gibraltar want that outcome. One of the banners carried at the demonstration of La Linea on 3 March read "Menos restricciones y más soluciones" - "fewer restrictions, more solutions".[296] Negativity, whether in Gibraltar, Madrid or London, serves no-one. Constructive engagement, with give and take on both sides, and a practical approach to cross-border co-operation is a solution which the Committee believes can be embraced by people of goodwill in Spain, the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. Support for such a solution should be the British Government's principal response to the current problems facing Gibraltar, and should form the nucleus of its reply to Señor Matutes's proposals.

125. We conclude that there have been occasions in the past when the British defence of Gibraltarian interests has not been as robust as it should have been. Of all our overseas territories, Gibraltar is in the unique position of having to conform to almost all EU regulations and directives. This means that the British Government have a special duty of care towards Gibraltar in the European Union, and places extra responsibilities upon United Kingdom Ministers to uphold the interests of Gibraltar. We urge Her Majesty's Government both to recognise and to act in full accordance with these responsibilities.

295   QQ 175,234. Back

296   El País, 4 March 1999. Back

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