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Opinion & Analysis

The voice of ‘67

In Casemates yesterday, the past and the present were bridged as we celebrated National Day and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum.

Fifty years ago, 12,138 Gibraltarians sent a clear message to the world and chose to remain British. Their choice resonates to this day.

On September 11, 1967, the Chronicle splashed ‘British We Stay’ across its front page. Five decades on, the message remains unchanged: ‘British We Are’.

We are Gibraltarians first and foremost, a unique people who take pride in our Rock and our close-knit, tolerant and peaceful community. But we are British Gibraltarians, and that is how most of us wish to remain.

Yesterday, once again, a British Prime Minister delivered a message to the crowds in Casemates.

There will be no change or even discussion about sovereignty against the wishes of the Gibraltarians.

“Gibraltar will remain British for as long as it chooses to,” Theresa May said.

To underscore that message even further, the Prime Minister despatched her Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan, to stand on stage alongside our political leaders and supporters from all parties in Westminster.

Brexit or no Brexit, the UK’s commitment to Gibraltar is double-locked and Rock solid.

This is not chest-beating patriotism but a real partnership.

Yesterday, as we celebrated National Day, the runway at RAF Gibraltar was busy with aircraft carrying supplies to be picked up today by HMS Ocean, bound for the Caribbean to deliver humanitarian aid to British Overseas Territories hit by Hurricane Irma.

Those overseas territories are our friends, as Chief Minister Fabian Picardo noted in his rally speech. The Rock, as it has done on so many occasions in the past, will play its part in support of the UK.

The sentiment yesterday is timely and welcome.

On Friday, Spain’s Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, will visit the Campo de Gibraltar to offer reassurance to Spanish citizens concerned about the impact on their lives of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Sr Dastis will no doubt come with promises of investment and support for the Campo municipalities.

He should come too with a firm, clear commitment that Spain will work with the UK and Gibraltar to ensure good cross-border relations and a fluid frontier post Brexit.

He will find Gibraltar and the UK willing partners in that endeavour. Whatever the red lines on each side, there is much common ground in between.

But there must be no price tag on cooperation, because the position here is clear.

We are Gibraltarian and we are British, and that is how we wish to remain.

As Mr Picardo said yesterday, echoing the voice of a community stretching back five decades: “British we are, British we stay.”

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