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Montevideo, February 6th 2023 - 20:12 UTC



Gibraltar's constitution is “modern” or “more modern”

Monday, December 4th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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Gibraltar's Opposition said over the weekend that the positions of London and Madrid on Gibraltar had begun “to converge” within 24 hours of the announcement of the referendum result, according to the Gibraltar Chronicle.

The Opposition was reacting to a statement by Geoff Hoon, Britain's Europe Minister, in which he welcomed Gibraltar's acceptance of the new Constitution.

At issue was the minister's use of a single word: the new Constitution would provide Gibraltar with a "more modern" relationship with the UK.

"It will be recalled that when the Opposition argued previously that the constitutional proposals would produce a "more modern" constitution but would not decolonise Gibraltar, the Government violently attacked this statement on the grounds that the terminology "more modern" was the way Spain Foreign Affairs minister Moratinos chose to describe it in order to belittle its significance" argued the Opposition.

"The Government also said that the UK description was that it was a "modern" constitution as opposed to a "more modern" constitution, and that these two were different things."

"The Government even accused the Opposition of preferring Mr Moratinos' wording to that of the UK for partisan party-political reasons."

"In the light of the statement just issued by London, it would appear that the positions of London and Madrid are beginning to converge, at least at a linguistic level, within 24 hours of the referendum vote".

The Opposition added: "Given that Mr Hoon claims to have accepted that the vote on Thursday was an act of self-determination, and that an act of self-determination can only mean the people of a dependent territory such as ourselves deciding the future status of their homeland, it would be helpful to know what Mr Hoon thinks is the status we have chosen on Thursday which entails this more modern and mature UK-Gibraltar relationship".

"No doubt, we shall be seeing more evidence of what it is that people have voted for on Thursday with the passage of time".

In his official statement on the referendum results Mr Hoon said: "I warmly welcome the people of Gibraltar's decision to accept the draft Gibraltar Constitution".

"I look forward to working with the Government of Gibraltar in the new, more modern and mature UK-Gibraltar relationship that it entails".

A total of 12,117 people cast their vote in the Gibraltar referendum, representing 60.4% of the 20,061 eligible voters. Of those, 60.24% voted Yes; 37.75% voted No and 1.7% cast blank votes.

With the Constitution having been accepted by the electorate, the next step will be for the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office to pass the Gibraltar Constitution Order to the next meeting of the Privy Council, scheduled for December 14 in London.

"The timing is good because these meetings do not take place that often" said a Gibraltar official. So far this year, the Privy Council has met just nine times.

This step was described by officials as a formality. An order will also have to be made to revoke the current 1969 Constitution.

After the Privy Council meeting on December 14, the new Constitution will come into force as soon as it is subsequently published in the Gibraltar Gazette.

In theory, this should happen by the end of the year or early in the New Year at the latest. "That is what everyone is aiming for" a UK official said.

The first tangible signs of the Constitution in practice are likely to be seen by the public during the forthcoming general election.

By that time the House of Assembly will have become Gibraltar's Parliament and will have at least 17 elected members, compared to 15 at the moment.

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