■ Britain's first involvement in Gibraltar was in 1704 when British and Dutch troops took the town of Gibraltar during the war of the Spanish succession. ■ The 1713 treaty of Utrecht ceded the territory to Britain in perpetuity. Throughout the 18th century Spain tried unsuccessfully to reclaim it, mounting a three-and-a-half-year siege during the American war of independence. ■ A visit from the Queen in 1954 sparked renewed Spanish claims to the territory. ■ In 1967, Gibraltarians took part in a referendum on whether they wanted to retain their links to Britain. Only 44 of more than 12,000 votes supported returning to Spanish sovereignty. ■ A constitution passed in 1969 stated that Britain would not let another country claim sovereignty over Gibraltarians "against their freely and democratically expressed wishes". In protest, Spain closed its land border with Gibraltar. It was not fully reopened until 1985. In a second referendum on its future, Gibraltarians overwhelmingly turned down proposals for Britain and Spain to share sovereignty, with more than 98% of voters rejecting the idea. ■ Britain's decision to include Gibraltar in the south-west region for the 2004 European parliament elections led to a failed appeal by Spain to the European court of justice. - Winckel
Ignoring a referendum would be highly undemocratic. - Stephan Planken from iPhone