House of Lords written question – answered at on 23 March 2011.

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Photo of Lord Ashcroft Lord Ashcroft Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a referendum on independence is the sole means by which the citizens of Gibraltar may obtain independence from the United Kingdom.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

Gibraltar could become independent from the UK if this were the freely and democratically expressed wish of the people of Gibraltar. We note that there are currently no proposals or discussions on Gibraltar for a referendum on this or any other constitutional issue. There have been referendums on major constitutional issues on three previous occasions and this is likely to continue as the most appropriate way to assess the wishes of the population on any proposed constitutional changes.

When considering the results of a referendum, the UK would be obliged to comply with obligations under the Treaty of Utrecht in which the UK undertakes that should Britain renounce sovereignty of Gibraltar, Spain is given the right of first refusal. However, the Government will not enter into arrangements under which Gibraltar will pass into the sovereignty of another state against the freely and democratically expressed wishes of the people of Gibraltar. Moreover, we will not enter into a process of sovereignty negotiations with which Gibraltar is not content.

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