Britain today reaffirmed its double-lock sovereignty commitment to Gibraltar, just hours after the UK voted to leave the EU and Spain said it would seek joint sovereignty.
David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, issued a short statement in which he left no doubt that the British Government would continue to stand by the people of Gibraltar.
“I want to be absolutely clear,” he said.
“The United Kingdom will continue to stand beside Gibraltar.”
“We will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar would pass under the sovereignty of another State against your wishes.”
“Furthermore, the UK will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.”
Mr Lidington was speaking after Spain’s acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, again said Spain would seek joint sovereignty over Gibraltar.
“It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time,” Sr García-Margallo said in a television interview analysing the Brexit vote.
“I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before.”
In his statement, Mr Lidington echoed the words of Prime Minister David Cameron, who said the will of the British people was an instruction to politicians that must be delivered.
“The people of Gibraltar voted in huge numbers for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union,” he said.
“I know many will be frustrated their view was not reflected in the United Kingdom. I know many will be concerned about the future.”
“It will take some time for our future relationship with the EU to become clear.”
“As I said to the Chief Minister earlier today, the UK Government will work in partnership with Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar as we move forward.”
He added: “The people of Gibraltar have built their remarkable success story through hard work, ingenuity, resilience and adaptability.”
“I know Gibraltar and Gibraltarians will rise to the challenge again, and make British Gibraltar stronger still.”