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Opinion & Analysis

The issue is not sovereignty

In the frenzy of media coverage on Gibraltar this weekend, the focus was repeatedly placed on the issue of sovereignty. But the immediate problem lies elsewhere.
Let us be clear: Gibraltar’s sovereignty is not up for discussion. Gibraltarians want to remain British and the UK Government has stated repeatedly that it will not discuss sovereignty against our wishes. Even Spain understands this.
Yesterday, after speaking with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Prime Minister Theresa May once again insisted that the UK remained “absolutely steadfast” in its support for Gibraltar. She also repeated the double-lock sovereignty commitment.
All of this is welcome, of course, but none of it is new. Mrs May herself made the same statements to the Commons last Wednesday immediately after triggering Article 50.
But the UK Government now needs to go further.
That does not mean sabre-rattling of the sort we heard from Lord Howard yesterday, which helps no one. This is a time for firm but measured diplomacy, not war rhetoric.
What we need is a Rock-solid commitment from the UK that it will include Gibraltar in any future trade deal with the EU.
It is this point that Mrs May and her ministers have to address.

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