Calls for Gibraltar and Falkland Islands to elect MPs to Westminster post-Brexit

By Patrick Daly, PA Political Correspondent
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Calls for Gibraltar and Falkland Islands to elect MPs to Westminster post-Brexit

A former Cabinet Office minister said British overseas territories such as Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands should be able to elect MPs to Parliament after Brexit.

John Penrose wants the 14 overseas territories, which include the renowned tax-havens the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, to be able to negotiate devolution arrangements similar to that enjoyed by all four countries within the UK, and also elect MPs to Westminster.

“They would send MPs to the Westminster parliament here, they would have their own devolved governments like the Welsh Assembly or the Scottish Parliament,” the Weston-super-Mare MP told The House magazine.

“It would show that we are committed to being a global nation post-Brexit.”

John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Mr Penrose made the intervention despite being a supporter of redrawing the electoral map to ensure each constituency has an electorate of no fewer than 71,000 people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering the Boundary Commission’s proposals for changing the shape and size of constituencies to fit such a blueprint.

Gibraltar, a British outcrop in the south of Spain, is home to around 34,000 people, and the Falkland Islands, situated off the coast of Argentina, has a population of approximately 4,400.

A devolution settlement and representation in the House of Commons could aid trade arrangements after Britain leaves the European Union, the Remain-backing Mr Penrose argued.

Boris Johnson, in his previous role as Foreign Secretary, honouring those who died in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict during a visit to Argentina (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The former Northern Ireland minister suggested sought-after goods and foods, such as lobsters from Tristan da Cunha, could enter into the UK internal market with fewer restrictions if a devolution arrangement was in place.

“It just makes the trading ties and links between our respective parts of the UK a great deal simpler, a great deal more friction-free,” Mr Penrose said.

The Conservative MP denied the move could be seen as akin to empire-building by Britain.

“People might make that argument but because we are offering and suggesting that these territories become equal parts of the United Kingdom, it’s hard to make an imperialist argument about this at all,” the backbencher said.

“It is clearly something that is talking about equal status.”

A spokesman for the UK Overseas Territories Association told the Westminster magazine it was “unaware of any formal” talks between the Government and the overseas territories over the prospect of electing MPs to Westminster.