STORM OVER GIBRALTAR HAVING AN MP IN PARLIAMENT: Representation in Westminster group accused of being 'ineffective' while Chief Minister is 'fence sitting'

Ken Westmoreland, who has long been active in promoting Gibraltar and the concept of Gibraltar having an MP at Westminster, has resigned from helping out 'on the matter of parliamentary representation for Gibraltar, more reluctantly, for the other Overseas Territories and even more reluctantly the Crown Dependencies.'

In an email to Anthony Webber, who is involved in the Representation campaign, he adds: 'Given your whole approach to this and the way it has antagonised people, I do not want to be seen to be fronting this and given my health at the moment, do not really want to have to bear the brunt of hostile reactions from those opposed to it.'

Westmoreland tells Webber: Unfortunately, your press release repeats the lie that the UK is the 'only' country not to give its external territories representation in its national parliament, when New Zealand is another, and while you claim that it would be 'unfair' to give this to some territories but not to others, that is exactly what the Netherlands does in its Caribbean ones.

"I first contacted you last year because I had got fed up with the ineffectiveness of those campaigning for an MP for Gibraltar, despite having got a petition with 14 000 signatures, as well as the fence-sitting by the Chief Minister, who signed it but has never said why he thinks it is a good idea.

The main problem with the proposal being bandied about is that it falls between two stools, because unlike Portugal and Italy, which have created parliamentary constituencies for their citizens abroad, the UK still has external territories, but unlike France, it has never given them parliamentary representation through incorporating them into its national territory, instead expecting each of them to behave as much like independent countries as possible, even if they do not become independent.

Westmoreland adds: Strictly speaking, the UK can extend voting rights and parliamentary representation to anyone anywhere in the world, just as other countries have done, and if it wants to extend these to those living outside the UK, under its sovereignty or outside it, it can do that too. But does it really want to? And the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are entirely within their rights to lobby against it, as many MPs will have misgivings of their own, just as they did over a similar proposal for Malta.

I do, however, respect your campaign for people in the Crown Dependencies to have a vote in the referendum on Brexit. I read an account of one young man from Guernsey studying in France, who when asked 'what have you done?' by shocked and confused French friends, had to explain to them that he and his family had had no say. As for the Overseas Territories, I confess to being so 'Gibraltar-centric' I never gave a thought about how Brexit would affect the others.

*The proposals now being bandied about do not provide Gibraltar with its own MP in Parliament, but rather sharing an MP with other Overseas territories, such as the MP for Gibraltar being shared by other far-flung territories which have nothing in common with the Rock - such a proposal would not go down well in Gibraltar.