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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 20:35 GMT
'Gibraltar wants to remain British'
Gibraltar
Gibraltar has been under dispute for 300 years
Gibraltar's chief minister has launched a campaign to win the backing of the British people for the Rock to remain a UK colony.

Peter Caruana will deliver the first of a series of appeals in Britain during a speech at Cambridge University.


Gibraltar has been British for nearly 300 years and we want to continue to be British

Peter Caruana
He plans to follow that up with a similar speech at Oxford.

The move follows talks earlier in the month between the British and Spanish governments which ended without agreement on the future of Gibraltar.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said at the time that the "process in which we are engaged includes discussions of sovereignty.

"We are discussing a range of options in relation to that - but we haven't reached an agreement."

The introduction of joint-sovereignty is one of the issues under discussion although the UK government has said any decision about the future of the Rock will be determined by in referendum of Gibraltarians.

'Deals rejected'

Mr Caruana has refused to take part in the talks and said that even if the referendum vote rejects a deal, the plans will remain "on the table" as British policy and be a "sword of Damocles" for Gibraltar.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram has argued Mr Straw was engaged in a "disingenuous process of sell-out".

Peter Caruana
Mr Caruana hopes to court public opinion in the UK
Ahead of his speech, Mr Caruana employed similar language saying the Gibraltar government "rejects and condemns any deals between the UK and Spain".

But UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has insisted he is determined to resolve a dispute that has plagued Anglo-Spanish relations for 300-years.

Mr Caruana said: "We want now to make an appeal to public opinion in the UK.

Self-determination?

"Gibraltar has been British for nearly 300 years and we want to continue to be British. We don't want to be Spanish."

"I think what has happened has come as an enormous surprise to us - that the Foreign Office is capable of such a degree of disingenuity," he said. "

Mr Caruana added that he believed British public opinion was "crucial" saying that the Gibraltarians were the underdogs in the dispute.

"We believe that the great British people will absolutely come to the conclusion that the people of Gibraltar are entitled to make their own decisions about their future."

See also:

05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Straw accused of Gibraltar betrayal
06 Feb 02 | England
Scramble for Rock votes
04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Gibraltar talks 'still on course'
15 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Dispute continues on Gibraltar talks
12 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Officials dismiss Gibraltar 'deal'
21 Nov 01 | Media reports
Hard times ahead for the Rock
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