A proposal by pro-Brexit campaigners to give Gibraltar its own MP if Britain votes to leave the EU has been dismissed as a “publicity stunt” by the Gibraltar Government.
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell is due to raise the prospect of integrating Gibraltar into the UK when he leads a Grassroots Out delegation to the Rock next week.
But the Gibraltar Government said there was no indication of any change to the British Government’s long-standing policy of not integrating its Overseas Territories or giving them Westminster representation.
“The timing of this in the context of the coming EU Referendum suggests that raising this issue at this juncture is little more than a publicity stunt,” a spokesman for No 6 Convent Place told the Chronicle.
The pro-Brexit campaigners will hold a rally in Casemates at 6pm on Monday at which Mr Rosindell, UKIP MEP Julia Reid and political commentator Alex Deane, the executive director of GO, are scheduled to speak.
Gibraltar’s interests will be “at the mercy of Spain via Brussels” if EU membership is not ended, Mr Rosindell will say.
He will also argue that deeper ties with the UK would help counter Madrid’s claims of sovereignty.
“A vote to leave the EU and to have greater representation in the UK will put an end to the threat of Spain, making it clear that Gibraltar is British and will be defended against aggression in exactly the same way as if the Rock were a part of mainland UK,” he said yesterday.
“I will always fight for the people of British Gibraltar, that’s why our long term interests are best served outside of EU control.”
Mr Rosindell is among the UK MPs accused by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo of putting their Euroscepticism before his people’s best interests.
Mr Picardo says Britain leaving the EU would be disastrous, with Spain “ready to pounce” and is urging Gibraltarians – who have a vote in the referendum – to back the “remain” camp.
“The United Kingdom has had a long-standing policy of not integrating its Overseas Territories and not making provision for them to be represented at Westminster,” the Gibraltar Government spokesman said.
“Instead, the policy has been to develop and increase the level of self-government of the Territory Governments through reviews of their constitutional structure which has passed more power to them from London.”
“Individual Members of Parliament are free to express their own views on any subject including this one, but the reality is that there is no indication whatsoever that the policy of the UK Government has changed.”
As well as the Casemates rally, the GO campaigners together with other delegates aim to distribute leaflets to local businesses, campaign material to residents and answer any questions either may have.
Representative for the campaign Matt Walsh said: “We understand there are worries about what Brexit would mean to Gibraltar.”