Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Dr Joseph Garcia, GSLP/Liberal Opposition, Gibraltar

BARCELONA TALKS—Clearest indication in joint statement of British Government's willingness to sever existing links with Gibraltar. (Press release)

  1.  The joint communique of today's Barcelona meeting fully confirms the analysis made by the Opposition ahead of the meeting. The issue facing Gibraltarians is whether we want Britain and Spain to negotiate a new constitution which will involve the lifting of Spanish restrictions, more self-government for Gibraltar, and an as yet unspecified Spanish role in the affairs of Gibraltar, implying a dilution of British sovereignty.

  2.  On September 18th, Mr Pique revealed that what was being studied were cooperation agreements which involved co-sharing of competence with UK capable of progressively implementing a practical co-sovereignty regime in Gibraltar. This has not been denied by the United Kingdom.

  3.  The Opposition believes every Gibraltarian should be given the opportunity to vote in a referendum early next year whether to support or reject the proposed Anglo-Spanish plan for our future before it is finalised and put to us by London.

  4.  We believe that if the plan proceeds, especially now that the timescale has been reduced from next December to next summer, it nullifies the work of the Select Committee in producing a new non-colonial constitution to be proposed to the United Kingdom.

  5.  The Opposition hopes that the Gibraltar Government will reconsider its position in the light of the joint communique and shall be raising this question at Friday's meeting of the Constitutional Committee.

  6.  If we fail to act now and mount a campaign to derail the negotiating process, the position that we shall face next summer is clear.

  7.  The new status will be put to us in a UK organised referendum and we shall be presented with a no win situation. Either acceptance of a fait accompli to achieve normal neighbourly relations in exchange for concessions, or rejection and being left at the receiving end of Spanish restrictions which deny us our EU and other political rights, which UK will not lift a finger to challenge. It is conceivable that in such a scenario London and Madrid could report back to the United Nations next October that the negotiating process envisaged in the UN resolutions, to resolve all the differences between them over Gibraltar, has been completed. They could then argue for the removal of Gibraltar from the agenda with the agreed package remaining on the shelf until Gibraltar comes round to accepting it. This would deny us the opportunity of arguing our case for self-determination at the United Nations.

  8.  Today's statement is the clearest possible indication we have ever had from any British Government of its willingness to sever the existing links with Gibraltar and for the first time some UK national newspapers are strongly supporting in their editorials that this is what London should make clear to the Gibraltarians.

  9.  The only way to freely exercise our democratic wishes is not be subjected to pressure or intimidation. To attempt to influence the result of a future referendum on a Spanish deal by veiled threats is a back handed way to dilute the worth of the Preamble to the Constitution.

Dr Joseph Garcia

GSLP/Liberal Opposition


20 November 2001

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