Speaker Lindsay Hoyle opens door for Gibraltar deciding future ‘even if it’s with Spain’

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Speaking ahead of the first anniversary of replacing John Bercow as Commons referee, Sir Lindsay touched on the future of the Rock. Referring to a possible decision by Gibraltarians to join Spain, he said: “Who would I be to stop it?”

Sir Lindsay is the highest authority of the Commons and has a duty to remain politically neutral.
In an interview with EFE, a Spanish news agency, he said: “Only the people of Gibraltar have the right to decide over their own future.
“It’s not that I believe we have a right on Gibraltar, far from it. It’s not our right to give away and it’s not our right to keep.
“If the people of Gibraltar decide next week that they want to join Spain, who would I be to stop it?”

The 63-year-old is rector of the University of Gibraltar and serves as chairman of the Multi-Party Parliamentary Group for Gibraltar.

The tiny piece of land on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

In 2002 the territory’s inhabitants voted by 99 percent to reject any idea of the UK sharing sovereignty with Spain.

Spain claims sovereignty over the port that it ceded to Britain in 1713 following a war.

Turning to Brexit, Sir Lindsay said he in his role as head of the Multi-Party Parliamentary Group for Gibraltar he works to ensure the people of the Rock get “a good deal”.

He said while he plays no part in the post-Brexit trade negotiations between the UK and Brussels, he wants Gibraltarians as well as Spaniards living on the other side of the border to be respected under any agreement.

He explained: “There is a shared border, which is economically important for both parties.

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“I believe that this relationship must be preserved and built on it.”

He said the communities living along both sides of the 1.2km border “need each other”.

His comments came as trade talks between Michel Barnier and David Frost heated up this week.

The pair embarked on an “intensive” round of meetings in London in the hope of thrashing out a deal amid the looming transition deadline.

While both sides have struggled to find common ground on a wide range of issues, one thing they did agree on was that any deal would have to be agreed by mid-October.

Boris Johnson has said that if there is no agreement, Britain will start trading with the bloc on “Australian terms”.

This would see firms across the country do business with foreign partners on World Trade Organisation rules.

His no-deal warning caused alarm to many businesses already suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday Ireland’s Taoiseach struck an optimistic note on Brexit, saying he believes Mr Johnson wants to sign a trade deal and predicted an agreement would be signed.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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