The recent sabre-rattling by Spain regarding Gibraltar as Brexit negotiations begin is irresponsible to say the least.
And by including a bogus Spanish claim over the territory in its draft guidelines for the negotiations, the European Council is being disrespectful, to put it mildly.
I had the pleasure of sharing a panel with Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo last year, where we both discussed the need for a Brexit that works for all parts of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.
As the UK government prepares for Brexit, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar will share some similar concerns and priorities.
For instance, we both share a land frontier with the EU. However, our solutions to these problems may not be the same, given the fact that Gibraltar currently has a different relationship with the EU than the UK does at present, as it did not include itself in the free movement of goods upon joining the then EEC in 1973.
Northern Ireland’s place as an integral part of the United Kingdom is enshrined in the principle of consent.
We must also be equally steadfast in affirming Gibraltar’s right to remain British for as long as Gibraltarians wish to remain so.
I hope when MEPs debate the European Parliament’s Brexit resolution on Wednesday morning that the right to self-determination will be respected and protected.
Gibraltar must not and will not be used as a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations.
Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP