Gibraltar: Rock Solid

Gibraltarians seem likely to deliver a resounding ‘no’ to thoughts of their sovereignty being shared between Britain and Spain. Despite the lack of an agreement on the issue, they have organised their own referendum this month. The two countries have seriously miscalculated the problems ahead.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 November 2002 4 minute READ

Peter Gold

Head of European Studies, University of West England, Bristol

With the dispute over the future of Gibraltar seen by both Britain and Spain as standing in the way of smooth bilateral relations and the implementation of important European Union (EU) agreements, the British government decided in July last year to propose discussions that would lead to agreement on joint British and Spanish sovereignty of Gibraltar. Such an agreement would be subject to a referendum by the people of ‘the Rock’, as guaranteed in the preamble to their 1969 constitution.

If Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, thought that this would be relatively straightforward, then they clearly made some major miscalculations.

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