Brexit means there as a “very clear argument” for Gibraltar to have its own MP, a Conservative MP has said.
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay claimed Brexit provided Britain with an “opportunity to build further on our relationship and to protect further the Rock’s rights and interests, and this is best guaranteed by a closer electoral bond”.
The former Ukip deputy leader said Gibraltar already had electoral links with the UK via its attachment to the south west region for representation in the European Parliament, adding: “This will disappear upon Brexit and the way to protect this attachment is for this Parliament to allow the people of Gibraltar direct representation here in this House.”
He said Gibraltar was the only territory within the EU that would be leaving the EU with the UK on March 29 next year.
Gibraltar, a member of the single market, voted overwhelmingly to Remain at the EU referendum.
Mr Mackinlay said that since the vote the people of Gibraltar and its government had shown “nothing but pragmatism and respect” for the referendum’s decision.
He said: “Brexit provides us with an opportunity to build further on our relationship and to protect further the Rock’s rights and interests and this is best guaranteed by a closer electoral bond, which would also send a very clear message to Madrid as to the perpetuity of that bond.”
Gibraltar’s population of around 33,000 with an electoral roll of 23,000 was in the same ball park of size as the Scottish constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar, which has 21,260 voters, he said.
Mr Mackinlay said the decision on whether to take up the offer of an MP in Westminster for Gibraltar must be made by the residents alone, adding that a local campaign had collected almost 9,000 signatures in support and would deliver the petition to the Commons on reaching 10,000.
“It would be for the people of Gibraltar to decide if they wish to have such representation here in our Parliament.”
He went on: “As we leave the EU and forge a new global Britain, and given the Rock’s unique constitutional position with its membership of the sterling zone and its rich historical links to Britain, there has never been a more appropriate time to cement our relationship with Gibraltar by offering them this constitutional bond. It would signal a perpetual and lasting link of shared interest.”
His Representation Of The People (Gibraltar) Bill was listed for a second reading on October 26 but has almost no chance of becoming law due to a lack of parliamentary time.