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Brexit and Europe Brexit and Europe

Protect democratic freedom for people in Gibraltar and our overseas territories

Last updated: 02:42pm 14 October 2019

And we will protect the democratic freedom of the people of Gibraltar and our overseas territories to remain British, for as long as that is their wish.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.36

Our verdict

Right – here’s a bit of background… There are fourteen British Overseas Territories (BOTs). BOTs fall under the “jurisdiction” of the UK – meaning the UK is responsible for their defence and foreign policy – but they govern themselves and are not part of the UK.

Why does Gibraltar get a special mention in the manifesto? Well, firstly because some BOTs dispute the UK’s sovereignty, and Gibraltar is one of them (claimed by Spain, of course). Secondly, because BOTs are not part of the UK, they are not part of the EU. Except – you guessed it – Gibraltar.

Given its special EU status, Gibraltar was able to vote in the EU referendum and 96% voted to remain in the EU. That’s from a turnout of 84% – pretty resounding!

So let’s get back to the policy. The government has pledged to “protect the democratic freedom of the people of Gibraltar and our overseas territories to remain British, for as long as that is their wish”.

Based just on Gibraltar as one of the overseas territories, this policy can be considered ‘in progress’. Protection is their case around two issues – whether Gibraltar can remain in the EU and also remain under the jurisdiction of the UK. Spain are not happy with this, and they want to ensure they discussion about Gibraltar’s relationship to the EU are discussed with them too – not just between the UK and EU.

The UK government laid out its support for the interests of Gibraltar in their negotiations. It has repeated this support in the face of threats from the Spanish government to veto the Brexit deal if it didn’t get consulted on Gibraltar.

As with most of the other policies on Brexit, we’ll have to wait for negotiations to conclude before we can reach a final verdict. We’ll also update this page when we have evidence of government action relating to other overseas territories. Follow this policy for updates.

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