Friday, September 09, 2005

Three guests drop out from National Day

Three of the 15 British parliamentarians who were expected to attend tomorrow’s National Day celebrations have had to drop out at the last minute for personal reasons.

Eleanor Laing, Conservative MP for Epping Forest, and Labour peer Lord Bilstone, formerly known as Dennis Turner MP, will both be unable to attend this year.

Graham Booth MEP, the UK Independence Party representative for the Southwest region, had also been expected to come to Gibraltar for the weekend but will not be doing so.

His absence means that this will be the first time since Gibraltarians won the right to vote in European elections that no MEPs come to Gibraltar to participate in the traditional Casemates rally.

The unexpected eleventh hour changes also mean that the political make-up of this year’s line-up, which even before the cancellations was weighted toward the ruling Labour party, now leans even further in that direction.

Ms Laing’s absence leaves a delegation of just three Tory visitors for this year’s outing, including Eric Pickles MP who is the Conservative Shadow Secretary for Local Government, alongside Mike Penning MP and Bob Spink MP.

Retired Tory peer Lord Merrivale, who is regarded as a long-time friend of Gibraltar and was granted the Freedom of the City in 2001, is also expected here for the weekend.

The Labour contingent includes Lindsay Hoyle MP, David Crausby MP, Jim Dobbin MP, Brian Jenkins MP, Kevan Jones MP, Bob Laxton MP and Geraldine Smith MP.

Simon Hughes MP and Paul Keetch MP will represent the Liberal Democrats, the former currently holding the party’s presidency.

Related Article:

06 September 2005 - Commons All Party lobby set to back Gibraltar National Day

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