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Gibraltar row: Boris Johnson throws down gauntlet to Spain with blunt letter backing Rock

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The Prime Minister made the promise in a letter to the Rock’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo to celebrate National Gibraltar Day yesterday. It commemorates Gibraltar’s first sovereignty referendum held in 1967 when the overseas territory overwhelmingly rejected any change to it staying under Britain’s control.

Spain’s endless demands to control the territory – which it ceded to the UK in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1715 – have only increased since the Brexit referendum.

Madrid has been accused of exploiting the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc to try and reassert control over the Rock – home to around 33,000 inhabitants.

There is virtually no appetite to leave the UK on the Rock, and successive British Governments have vowed to ensure that there will be no change to its sovereignty without the wishes of its people.

Mr Johnson reiterated this message in the open letter.

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“The UK will stand fully behind Gibraltar, its people and its economy in any scenario.

“I am delighted that the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Wendy Morton MP, can join you on the Rock to celebrate National Day.

“The UK and Gibraltar have a long history and an unbreakable bond, tried and tested through difficult times. Today we celebrate that, and we look forward, together.”

Mr Picardo voiced similarly strong words to mark the annual event.

He said: “On September 10, 1967, we made a choice.

“We chose to remain British. And today we commemorate and celebrate that choice.

“In the same way as our forefathers said then, we are clear.

“This land is our land. The soil of Gibraltar belongs to no one but the people of Gibraltar.

“The soil of Gibraltar will belong to no one but the people of Gibraltar. No one but the Gibraltarians will decide the future of this, our land.

“And we will never make or permit any concessions on our sovereignty.”



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