By Sir Alan Duncan, Minister for Europe & Americas at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
If like me you’re in Gibraltar today, make sure you’re wearing red or white and are ready for a party.
Shelve any plans for a quiet drink at a pavement café. Or indeed, any hope of finding a seat anywhere on the Rock.
That’s because today is the anniversary of the day the people of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to stay part of the UK family.
Gibraltar has been British since Queen Anne was on the English throne and our warships were made of English oak.
51 years ago, the people of the Rock were asked if they wanted to stay British. The answer could hardly have been clearer. Ever since then, September 10th has been a day of joyful celebration and a good deal of flag-waving.
The past is important, but there is much more to the UK’s relationship with Gibraltar than that.
Today our economies are closely entwined – there is a one in five chance that the guarantee for your car insurance policy comes from here. And Gibraltar plays a unique part in the UK’s defence, as was clear when it was chosen as the first port of call for our new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in February.
Gibraltar has a special place in my heart. I lived here as a child when my father was stationed on the Rock as the Commanding Officer of the RAF.
I was also here last year for the 50 year anniversary. And I’m glad to be back this year to join the party and re-state the commitment of the UK Government to support the people of Gibraltar, and honour their wish to stay part of the UK family as long as they choose.