Working on the theory if you say something often enough it will eventually sink in it was the British Ambassador to Spain’s turn to reiterate his government’s position on Gibraltar. Giles Paxman (brother of TV hard man interviewer Jeremy) used a breakfast meeting in Madrid on Tuesday to deliver his message. He was addressing the Executive Fórum España and told the assembled company that Gibraltar would not come under Spanish sovereignty without a referendum being held on the Rock at which Gibraltarians would have the right to determine their own future.
The ambassador’s words were straight enough: “We won’t allow the inhabitants of Gibraltar to pass under the sovereignty of another country against their democratically expressed wishes.... It is a very strong principal for us.”
Paxman said he understood that the right of self determination was not something that was recognised under the Spanish Constitution but none the less the people of Gibraltar had the right to determine their own future. He went on to stress that the UK would not forget its promise to Gibraltar despite the insistence of the government of Mariano Rajoy that there should be a return to the negotiations on the sovereignty of the Rock that were interrupted in 2002.
In his address to Congress on January 22 the Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo had called on London to re-establish this dialogue “soon”. However the Ambassador rejected the offer of García-Margallo and made it clear there would be no negotiations unless the Gibraltarians wanted it. He stressed: “The British position is well known and hasn`t changed. On Constitutional themes account has to be taken of the opinion of the people.”
Under the 1984 Thatcher – Howe brokered Brussels Process between Spain and the UK it was stipulated that dialogue on sovereignty should be bilateral and that any eventual accord could not be vetoed by the population of Gibraltar. It is this two flags process that the Partido Popular wants to return too with the two flags being the UK and Spain but Gibraltar and the Campo de Gibraltar sitting in as part of their delegations. The Ambassador avoided any reference to this part of the García-Margallo big idea.
Whilst delivering a “no surrender” message to Madrid in Madrid Paxman also stressed the British Government wished to see collaboration between the authorities of Gibraltar and the neighbouring Campo de Gibraltar “for mutual benefit.” This mirrors the Gibraltar Government’s own desire to see cross border accords and co-operation on matters of shared interest.