Is it time for Gibraltar to have another referendum on its future status? I ask the question because next year the Falkland Islands will do just that with Britain promising to honour whatever outcome is voted on. It has to be said that in both the case of Gibraltar and the Falklands the view of the people would be to remain British so London doesn’t have much to worry about.
A Gibraltar referendum in 2013 would be appropriate because it is also the tri-centenary of the sign of the Treaty of Utrecht. Under the terms of that battered old treaty Spain ceded Gibraltar to the British Crown in perpetuity and not as many in Madrid currently believe to when Franco or the Partido Popular were or are in power.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, raised the referendum at the G20 summit after a diatribe from the Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, demanding talks on the future of the Falklands/Malvinas. He stated that in this post colonial age the rights of the people of the Falklands were paramount and whatever they decided in their referendum should be respected.
Following the announcement by the Falklands Government that it was organising the referendum David Cameron stated that it was “absolutely right” that the islanders made their voices heard over their future. He added: “And Britain will be resolute in supporting their choice.”
Cameron continued: “Next year’s referendum will determine beyond doubt the views of the people of the Falklands. Britain will respect and defend their choice. We look to all UN members to live up to their responsibilities under the UN charter and accept the islanders’ decision about how they want to live.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague reinforced Cameron’s words stating: “I hope very much that Argentina, and indeed the whole of the international community, joins the UK in listening carefully to what they have to say.”
Gavin Short is the Chairman of the Falkland Islands’ legislative assembly and said they were holding the referendum about their future “to show the world just how certain we are about it”.
“I have no doubt that the people of the Falklands wish for the islands to remain a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom.”
Well the Chairman of the Falkland’s legislature could be echoed word for word by our Chief Minister. Indeed statements this year by both Cameron and Hague suggest they support the wishes of Gibraltarians in the same way as residents of the Falklands to self determine their own future.
So may be 2013 is the year for a double whammy in support of democracy in Gibraltar and the Falklands and with it a devastating blow to the colonial ambitions of Spain and Argentina.
Of course to be meaningful the Gibraltar referendum should give Gibraltarians the option to choose to be ruled by Spain and even offer an Andorra-style future which should gain one vote. What is important is that once Gibraltar and the Falklands have spoken that Britain takes those decisions to the UN and demands they are honoured and respected by all member states and the organization’s own committees.