Let me start by saying that I have no view on the future sovereignty of Gibraltar. For me it is not an issue. However for the people of the Rock it is.
Over the years I have spoken out on the right of Gibraltarians to determine their own future be it remaining British, becoming Spanish, joint sovereignty, a federation within Europe or total independence.
I also do not accept that a decision on the future of Gibraltar can be imposed on the people of the Rock. If any talks take place between London and Madrid then Gibraltar must be fully involved and have the final say.
On that point Peter Montegriffo and myself are agreed. Montegriffo, an eminent lawyer, is now out of politics but many in Gibraltar believe he is merely biding his time until the chief minister Peter Caruana steps down and then he will throw his hat in to the GSD ring that he once graced. Given that when the two big beasts of Gibraltar politics, Caruana and Bossano, step down the leadership of the Rock will be in a state of flux, it would be a brave man (or woman) that rules Montegriffo out of the top job. His views should be listened to.
However I am curious by what the former GSD minister says in an interview with Campo de Gibraltar newspaper, Europa Sur. If he is quoted correctly he stated the time is not ripe for a sovereignty solution. He says that adequate conditions must first be created before embarking on sovereignty talks...but then goes on to say he believes that a future agreement on sovereignty can be reached.
I should add that he fully backs the tripartite process and closer links with the Campo de Gibraltar. However co-operation is one thing – sovereignty is quite another.
So why future talks?
Unless I am wrong, and I frequently am, the Spanish Government’s position is clear – it believes that Gibraltar should be an integral part of the nation and even joint sovereignty would only be a stepping stone on the road to that eventual goal. All the major parties are agreed on that stance.
In contrast the people of Gibraltar have indicated in two referenda that they totally reject any sovereignty deal with Spain. Hence we have two set positions – surrender and no surrender.
If Spain’s ambitions for Gibraltar and Gibraltarians ambitions for the Rock are totally at odds with each other - surely there is nothing to discuss.
Therefore unless Gibraltarians collectively are willing to go along the Spanish route talks can achieve nothing. Indeed you can’t have talks on sovereignty when sovereignty for Gibraltarians isn’t an issue.
Spain, or rather its government, isn’t going to change its stance – so is Gibraltar?