Gibraltar has intermittently featured in the headlines in recent years amid repeated incursions by Spanish ships into the peninsula’s waters. The future of the Rock – which voted by 96 per cent to stay in the EU in 2016 – was subject to much speculation and briefing during the Brexit negotiations as Spain has long sought to reclaim the tiny territory. But could an even closer relationship with Westminster now be on the cards?
A new poll for The Spectator by Redfield and Wilton — with a sample size of 1,500 — shows that the British people back Gibraltar having its own seat in the House of Commons by more than three to one. Some 39 per cent support a proposal for the Rock’s 33,000 strong population to have a Westminster constituency like Rhondda or Rother Valley, compared to just 11 per cent who oppose the idea. A further 34 per cent neither supported nor opposed the idea while 16 per cent said they simply did not know.
Such polling was music to the ears of Romford backbencher Andrew Rosindell, who has long campaigned for the Rock to have a seat in Westminster. He told Mr S: ‘The question we should be asking is not “why should Gibraltar have its own MP?” it is “why should Gibraltar not have its own MP?” Gibraltarians are British and they should have equal representation, just like all British people do. With a population now well into the tens of thousands, the logical next step is for Gibraltar to have its own representative in the heart of British democracy.
'The polling announced today shows that the British people agree by a 3-1 margin, that it's now time to fully welcome our fellow Brits on the tip of the Iberian peninsula into the heart of our political institutions.’ Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who has previously backed calls for Westminster representation, added: ‘This is an informative result for us to analyse as we continue our work to deepen our relationship with the UK.’
Gibraltar did of course share a constituency with Cornwall and others in the European Parliament as part of the combined South West England region until last year while Malta's (rejected) efforts to join the UK in 1956 would have seen them given three MPs. Moves in the late nineteenth century to integrate overseas colonies in the French model were rejected partly because MPs feared their sway would be diluted and the need for another Great Reform Act.
So could Boris become the first Prime Minister to expand the territorial integrity of the UK's parliament for the first time since Pitt the Younger? Mr S wonders if such a move could soon be part of plans for Johnson’s vision of a ‘Global Britain.’