Pretending to be what it is not

Dear Sir,

Like Joe Caruana, I welcome the election of Sir Lindsay Hoyle as Speaker of the House of Commons, but as far as Gibraltar is concerned, it is a setback, as he will no longer be able to take part in debates, be they on Gibraltar or anything else. Actually, it would have been better had Chris Bryant been elected given that he was much more supportive of Spain during the joint sovereignty discussions, even arguing that: 'Commercial lobbying companies would be banned using a House of Commons pass to run a campaign within the house. The same should apply to Gibraltar.' In fairness, he has since visited the Rock and sounded much more sympathetic than he once did. 

However, I do think it a bit of a cheek that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gibraltar, of which Sir Lindsay is President, describes its purpose as being 'to represent the views of the people of Gibraltar in Parliament'. By whom in Gibraltar were he and his colleagues elected for that purpose? They do fine work, as do those on other Overseas Territories, but none of them makes such a claim, so it is unreasonable for the one on Gibraltar to do so, and pretend to be what it is not.

Even the Brexit Party has had more of a mandate on the Rock than any of them, by virtue of its 746 votes gained in the European Parliament elections, which really is saying something!

Joe was a little too enthusiastic about the Chief Minister's comments in his Daily Telegraph interview given that he said that he was not seeking to have an MP in the House of Commons because it risked 'creating a West Lothian question with even greater difficulties arising around it because we would have complete devolution in all [sic - domestic] matters and representation in Parliament', a reference to the question about Scottish MPs voting on English matters after devolution.

Indeed, decades before that was first asked, the Scottish Secretary threatened to resign over proposals to give Malta representation, arguing that 'I cannot force myself to believe that anyone has any right to wield powers without responsibility'.

As regards Joe's idea of Gibraltar as 'an Autonomous Devolved Region' of the UK, his overuse of adjectives sounds as silly as North Korea being called a 'Democratic People's Republic'. Some assume that 'devolved' means having no more autonomy than Scotland, but the UK uses the term in relation to the Cayman Islands, which is as autonomous as Gibraltar, though its government has said it has no desire for representation at Westminster. And that old bogeyman, integration?

All the UN would require is that people in Gibraltar should have freely chosen a status giving them the same voting rights as those in the UK, not the same laws or taxes.

I also find it amusing that he talks about 'Gibraltar’s new future out of Europe', as if to suggest that it and the UK will be relocated to Antarctica. In or out of the European Union, the UK will still be a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Each of these, along with NATO, has a Parliamentary Assembly made up of delegates from the national parliaments of member states, just as the European Parliament originally was.

As things stand, Gibraltar is unrepresented in all of them as it is neither an independent member state nor represented in the parliament of the member state responsible for its defence and foreign relations.

Perhaps the next time he meets the Chief Minister and Attorney General, they should give him a refresher course on this, given that it was the European Court of Human Rights, an institution of the Council of Europe, and not the Court of Justice of the EU, which ruled that the UK should give people in Gibraltar the right to vote in elections to European Parliament. They of all people should know, given that they were counsels for Denise Matthews when she first took her case against the UK to that court!

Yours

Ken Westmoreland

9-11-2019 PANORAMAdailyGIBRALTAR