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PM praises 'dignity' of Gibraltar

David Cameron has praised the "enormous dignity" shown by the people of Gibraltar in response to months of pressure from Spain as the overseas territory celebrates its National Day.

The Prime Minister said the Government and people of Britain "stand with you now" as he called for an end to the "unacceptable border delays" caused by the Spanish authorities in the row over an artificial reef.

In a video message, he said: "Gibraltar has been British for 300 years. Let's keep it that way."

Gibraltar's National Day commemorates the anniversary of the overseas territory's first referendum on British citizenship, and Mr Cameron stressed that there would be no attempt to even discuss the transfer of sovereignty again without the consent of Gibraltarians.

He said: "Britain and Gibraltar have a long and proud history. For 300 years we have stood together, as one with our shared sovereign. Today your flag flies over the Foreign Office in London.

"The people of Gibraltar have faced the pressures of recent months with enormous dignity. Let me assure you that the British people and my Government stand with you now. Our relationship is solid, sure and enduring.

"On this Gibraltar National Day, the British Government wholeheartedly supports your right to determine your political future. As I have said before, we will never agree to any transfer of sovereignty - or even start a process of negotiation of sovereignty - without your consent. And I wouldn't want us ever to go down that route. Gibraltar has been British for 300 years. Let's keep it that way."

Relations with Gibraltar's neighbours have been strained by the dispute over the reef, which the authorities in Madrid claim has damaged fishing grounds.

European Commission inspectors are due to visit the border later this month to assess the legality of stringent traffic checks introduced by Madrid, which have led to queues lasting several hours for traffic crossing to and from the rocky outcrop at the mouth of the Mediterranean.

In an effort to cool the row, Mr Cameron said: "As we celebrate today, let us all remember that Spain is our neighbour and thousands of Spanish people are welcomed by you to work in Gibraltar. I know many of you have close family and friends in Spain. The world is an unstable place; Gibraltar is not."


From Belfast Telegraph