Jack Straw
A letter to the
Spanish Foreign

Letter to London
Sr Moratinos

Letter From Jack Straw

His Excellency Miguel Angel Moratinos
Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation

You and I have discussed Gibraltar on a number of occasions. You have expressed concern that any new constitution should not undermine Spain's position in respect of the Treaty of Utrecht. I am accordingly writing to advise you that the negotiations between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar delegations to agree a new Constitution for Gibraltar were concluded on Friday 17 March. The full text of the draft Constitution will not be ready for publication for another few weeks. It will then be put to a referendum in Gibraltar and, if it is approved, given effect through an Order in Council. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify certain key issues for you in the draft Constitution. These same points will also be set out in a Despatch from myself to the Governor at the same time that the Order in Council is given effect.

As I set out in my statement of 6 February 2004, the starting point for the work to modernise Gibraltar's constitution was the invitation in the 1999 White Paper (Partnership for Progress and Prosperity: Britain and the Overseas Territories) to OT governments to submit proposals for constitutional reform. In July 1999, the Gibraltar House of Assembly constituted a Select Committee to report on Constitutional reform. The Committee published its proposals in January 2002. We formally received them in December 2003. These proposals were subsequently discussed between delegations from the UK and Gibraltar in November/December 2004, September 2005 and March 2006.

The new Constitution provides for a modem relationship between Gibraltar and the UK. This Constitution does not in any way diminish British sovereignty of Gibraltar, and the UK will retain its full international responsibility for Gibraltar, including for Gibraltar's external relations and defence, and as the Member State responsible for Gibraltar in the European Union. Gibraltar will remain listed as a British Overseas Territory in the British Nationality Act of 1981, as amended by the British Overseas Territory Act 2002.

As a separate territory, recognised by the United Nations and included since 1946 in its list of non-self governing territories, Gibraltar enjoys the individual and collective rights accorded by the UN Charter. Her Majesty's Government therefore supports the right of self-determination of the people of Gibraltar, promoted in accordance with the other principles and rights of the UN Charter, except in so far only as in the view of Her Majesty's Government, which it has expressed in Parliament and otherwise publicly on many occasions, Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht gives Spain the right of refusal should Britain ever renounce Sovereignty. Thus, it is the position of Her Majesty's Government that there is no constraint to that right, except that independence would only be an option for Gibraltar with Spain's consent.

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