Gibraltar Isn't the Only Outpost That Firmly Wants to Stay British; BRITAIN'S Row with Spain over Gibraltar Has Sparked Bouts of Sabre-Rattling with Threats of Legal Action. but Why Do We Still Have "Overseas Territories" and Where Are They? Darren Devine Reports

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Gibraltar Isn't the Only Outpost That Firmly Wants to Stay British; BRITAIN'S Row with Spain over Gibraltar Has Sparked Bouts of Sabre-Rattling with Threats of Legal Action. but Why Do We Still Have "Overseas Territories" and Where Are They? Darren Devine Reports


Byline: Darren Devine reports

IT'S physically connected to mainland Spain, but has been British since 1713.

Gibraltar is one of 14 remaining overseas territories stretching from the volcanic Pacific Ocean island of Pitcairn to the Caribbean holiday hotspot and international tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

Relics of the days when the sun never set on the nation's vast empire they remained steadfastly British when in the 30 years after the Second World War the likes of former African colonies and India opted to go it alone.

And the vestiges of empire remain. The territories have British appointed governors who work alongside locally elected politicians.

Retired Foreign Office legal adviser Ian Hendry said the mix of good governance and protection offered by Britain helps to ensure the link remains.

When Britain signed up to the principle of self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter after the Second World War it made it difficult to resist the calls for independence in its colonies.

Mr Hendry, a co-author of British Overseas Territories Law, said: "In what is left (of the empire) there has not been a clearly expressed wish for independence.

"So the UK is left with them and since the principle of self-determination in 1945 the British Government has respected that (wish to remain an overseas territory)."

But this is not to say the 14 territories remain uniformly loyal to the "mother country". Sometimes independence movements have taken root - but very rarely have they grown into anything that would threaten ties with Britain.

A 1995 referendum in Bermuda rejected independence - with 73.6% favouring the continuation of the link with Britain.

And nowhere is the tie with Britain as firm as in the Falkland Islands, which earlier this year held a vote on sovereignty.

Up to 99.8% voted overwhelmingly to remain a British territory, with only three votes against.

One territory where political division is at its most bitter and enduring is on the Chagos Islands, which form part of British Indian Ocean territory. …

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Gibraltar Isn't the Only Outpost That Firmly Wants to Stay British; BRITAIN'S Row with Spain over Gibraltar Has Sparked Bouts of Sabre-Rattling with Threats of Legal Action. but Why Do We Still Have "Overseas Territories" and Where Are They? Darren Devine Reports
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