MPs to visit Gibraltar as Spain tensions simmer

A CROSS-PARTY delegation of MPs will visit Gibraltar this week as it celebrates its national day amid increased tensions with Spain.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil is among the delegation heading to Gibraltar. Picture: Johnston Press

The milestone on 10 September, which commemorates the day in 1967 the British overseas territory held its first referendum on British citizenship, comes as the row with Spain over an artificial reef drags on.

European Commission inspectors are due to visit the border this month to assess the legality of stringent traffic checks introduced by Madrid, which have led to queues lasting several hours for traffic crossing to and from the rocky Mediterranean outcrop.

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The group of MPs, including Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes, will visit along with peers and MEPs for a series of meetings, the Gibraltar Government said.

Other MPs it said were attending are Angus MacNeil, Jim Dobbin, Jack Lopresti, David Morris, Bob Neill, Andrew Rosindell, Alec Shelbrooke, Col Bob Stewart and Dame Angela Watkinson.

Representatives of eight overseas territories, including the Falkland Islands, will also be in Gibraltar for the event.

Commonwealth MPs at a parliamentary conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, have become the latest group to back Gibraltar and criticise Spain’s manoeuvring in the row over fishing rights. The Spanish say 74 concrete blocks on the seabed disrupt an area used by its fishing boats, while the Gibraltarians say it was a necessary environmental measure.