A Devon member of the UK Parliament, Oliver Colvile
, has given his support to calls for Gibraltar to be awarded the highest civilian honour, the George Cross
, a move he says will send a send a clear message of British support to Gibraltar in the face of recent Spanish contestations over the sovereignty of the Rock.
Mr Colvile, the Conservative MP who represents the naval port constituency of Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, secured a Westminster Hall debate today in Parliament, and during the debate this morning said
: “I am firmly behind the George Cross for Gibraltar campaign […] Gibraltar’s connection with Devonport, in my constituency, is legendary, because both have a naval dockyard and naval base. Three hundred years ago this year, Gibraltar was ceded in perpetuity by the Spanish to the British Crown at the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 following the Spanish war of succession. It is now a British dependent territory and has withstood more than four sieges over the past three centuries. Throughout that time, it has remained loyal to the Crown.
“I believe that by giving Gibraltar the George Cross, Britain will send a clear message that we want to thank the Gibraltarians for their loyalty and that we abide by the commitment that the Gibraltarians have shown in referendums to remaining a British overseas territory,” he added. “Consistently, Spain has campaigned for the British Government to hand over sovereignty of the Rock. The current dispute over the fishing reef is yet another example of how the Spanish Government do not get the message. For some reason they think that if they carry on pushing they will get a result. I hope that nothing could be further from the truth.”
Campaigners are calling for the British Government to award the George Cross in honour of Gibraltar's military service to Britain over the past 300+ years and its enduring link to the British Crown.
The call was launched by Plymouth campaigner Kevin Kelway, who is the co-ordinator of the UK Friends of Gibraltar Group, who told the Plymouth Herald
: "We are delighted our campaign is being heard at the beating heart of our democracy. Big thanks to our local MP Oliver Colvile who is supporting this long and overdue honour to the people and city of Gibraltar.
The George Cross was instituted in 1940 by the Queen's father King George VI and has been awarded collectively on just two occasions – to Malta in 1942
and to the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1999.
An online petition backing Gibraltar for the honour can be found at dorcasmedia.com/gibraltar-petition
or via their Facebook page
Click here to read the HANSARD transcript of the Westminster debate
or click here to watch the debate via BBC Democracy Live