A LANDMARK visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Gibraltar and Southern Spain is currently under discussion.
The UK foreign affairs committee raised the possibility of a royal visit during a meeting in Gibraltar yesterday.
It would be the first time in 60 years that the British monarch has visited Gibraltar and it is hoped it could potentially improve relations with Spain.
“The last time she came it led to the turning of the screw the other way and the border was closed by Franco,” said one observer at the meeting. “It is hoped this might have the opposite effect.”
The meeting was attended by a number of British MPs including Sir Richard Ottoway, Anne Clwyd and Mike Gapes. The issue was raised however by Andrew Rosindell, the conservative MP for Romford, Essex, who said: “This is all a question of diaries.”
The item, third on the agenda, was discussed for approximately five minutes and was welcomed by Gibraltar first minister Fabian Picardo.
He said she would be very welcome in Gibraltar. “It is her place to come, this is her territory so we don’t think she even needs to ask permission to visit,” he said. “The people of Gibraltar would be very happy.”
The visit by the foreign affairs committee, which consists of five Labour MPs, five Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat, was described as a ‘one-off evidence session with the chief minister as part of a rolling inquiry into overseas territories’.
It followed an evidence session held with UK foreign affairs minister Mark Simmonds and sought to explore the issues were raised in that session, including the overall UK – Gibraltar relationship and the current situation with regard to Spain.
It has previously been thought that a visit by the Queen could cause more problems with Spain.
However, this diplomatic meeting could end up turning the screw the other way and being good for both countries.
One attendee at the meeting told the Olive Press: “It is fantastic, it gives us real hope of solving the border problem.”
Following the Queen’s last visit, Gibraltarians voted in favour of remaining a British territory and in response Spain completely closed the border and it remained shut for a decade.