Neil Parish MP: it is the democratic right of the people of Gibraltar to remain British

Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton, spoke in a statement by Foreign and Comonwealth Office Minister, Mark Simmonds MP, on the unauthorised incursion of a Spanish naval vessel into British territorial waters at the entrance to Gibraltar harbour on 19th November 2013.


Neil Parish previously represented Gibraltar as its Member of the European Parliament for five years, when he was MEP for the South West Region. During the Minister’s statement Neil Parish intervened to make the point that Partido Popular, Spain’s ruling political party, is deeply unpopular and is sabre-rattling with the UK to distract attention from its domestic problems.


Speaking during the statement Neil Parish said:


“Partido Popular in Spain and the Government are extremely unpopular, so these activities are just a diversion. The trouble is that the people of Gibraltar are the ones who suffer every time the border is closed. We need to stop these things constantly being escalated. In the end, it is the democratic right of the people of Gibraltar to remain British, which they emphasise all the time. We must do more as a Government to make sure the borders are open.”


Replying, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds said:


“My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point about the necessity to improve access across the border, which is why we will try to do everything we can to ensure that the EU Commission’s recommendations are implemented in full. We also fully expect Spain to act on the Commission’s recommendations. The Commission is still clearly concerned by the situation and is committed to remaining engaged and following up in the way that I outlined. Interestingly, it has reserved the right to reconsider its position and has explicitly offered the possibility of a further visit to the border. If the Commission is to do that, I suggest that it does so without giving the Spanish notice so that it can see how people are suffering.”


Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 20 November 2013, c1241)