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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 15:18 GMT
Rock-hard stance against joint sovereignty
Gibraltarians are voting against any plan for future joint sovereignty
Gibraltarians are voting against joint sovereignty
The BBC's Tim Franks

Polling station Number Six at nine in the morning. A brisk trickle of people are moving into blue-curtained booths to vote on their future.

"I was born British, I must die British," declared one British war veteran.

"I don't believe that the nationality of anyone should be decided over their own heads," said the next.

"I voted No because I don't want to be united to Spain. Look how they've treated us all this time."

Their message was clear.

Gibraltar's Chief Minister Peter Caruana
Gibraltar's Chief Minister Peter Caruana
The result may be obvious but the no campaign is still working tirelessly to get as large a majority as possible.

But given that Britain and Spain haven't actually agreed to a deal yet, the two governments say it's all rather presumptuous.

'Our future'

Not so, according to Clive Golt, the editor of a Gibraltar newspaper, the New People.

"It's clearly important because it's a political manifestation. It's affirming the right to self-determination in a way. Telling people - telling the world what we feel.

"How we feel about ourselves, our future and that we're not going to allow anybody to decide what happens in the Rock of Gibraltar".

Further up the Rock, in St. Bernard's Hospital, they're voting as well.


I was born British. I must die British

Gibraltarian voter
The doctor is passing the ballot box around individual beds. Curtains are being drawn discreetly round the patient as they mark their cross.

Mark Seddon is one of the election observers - he's been brought over from London - a member of the governing Labour Party's national executive committee.

But should London and Madrid pay any attention to this vote?

"It puts some onus on the British and Spanish governments," he replied.

Gibraltar's national day celebrations
Gibraltar's national day celebrations
"If they really do feel that this little spot at the end of the Iberian Peninsula is such a problem, they need to be able to make an appeal to the people here to change their minds."

"Our Prime Minister is very keen to have a close relationship with the Spanish prime minister and the Italian prime minister too - a sort of triumvirate of the three most right wing leaders in Europe," he added.

"And I think that Gibraltar could have been the casualty in that relationship".

And that's the point. It's not just that the people here care passionately.

Gibraltar may only be a rock off the Iberian Peninsula but it's a rock altering relationships between Britain and Spain and the those across the European Union.


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10 Sep 02 | Europe
26 Jul 02 | Politics
26 Jul 02 | Media reports
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