A Private Member’s Bill calling on the UK Government to give Gibraltar’s voters the opportunity to elect their own representative to the UK Parliament has been re-scheduled for debate in the House of Commons.
The bill, tabled by Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, is set for debate on June 19, with the South Thanet MP scheduled to give a 10 minute speech on the matter.
The new date was confirmed after the Representation of the People (Gibraltar) Bill’s original date of 15 May had to be postponed to allow for UK Government business.
Mr Mackinlay argues that Gibraltar now sits in a unique constitutional position as both the UK and Gibraltar leave the EU.
He proposes that residents of Gibraltar should decide whether they would like to elect an MP to Westminster and has assured Gibraltarians that the UK has no wish to impose representation in the UK Parliament on them.
Mr Mackinlay insists too that the move would not change the Rock’s 2006 constitutional relationship with the UK, but rather “would signal a perpetual and lasting bond of shared interests”.
“For over 300 years Gibraltar and its people have played their part in support of Britain’s history as a global leader in commerce and as a political power of influence,” he said.
“Gibraltar has – and continues to be – an unwavering supporter of the UK and a loyal member of the British family.”
“Few were surprised that Gibraltar voted remain at the 23rd June 2016 EU referendum, reflecting its residents’ concerns that the EU had played, at times, a role in balancing the often fractious demands of its giant neighbour.”
“But now that the UK is set to leave the EU and Gibraltar will be losing their representation in the European Parliament, I believe it is right that voters in the British Territory are given the power to elect their own representative to the House of Commons.”
“The mechanics of how this might work would need to be discussed with Gibraltar’s leaders.”
He added: “It would be for the people of Gibraltar to decide if they wish to have such representation, but as we leave the EU and forge a new Global Britain, and given the Rock’s unique constitutional position with its membership of the Sterling zone and its rich historical links to Britain, there has never been a more appropriate time to cement our relationship with a parliamentary bond.”
“I very much hope that, with this Bill, we may be able to reward the Gibraltarian people for their steadfast and loyal support to Britain.”
Local campaigners from the Representation in Westminster Group have been arguing for a number of years that a democratically elected MP in Westminster can only strengthen the Rock’s link with Britain. The campaign says it has already collected approaching 9,000 signatures in support of UK Parliament representation and will deliver the petition to Westminster once 10,000 signatures have been amassed.