LONDON, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Paul Nuttall, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Wednesday night defended his call for Gibraltar to become part of Britain.
He said his idea to declare the territory at the southern tip of Spain as part of Britain would prevent the area, famed for its famous rock overlooking the gateway to the Mediterranean Sea, from being used as a pawn in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Nuttall, who serves as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), forwarded his proposal earlier Wednesday at a meeting of the parliament in Strasbourg.
Speaking in a debate in Strasbourg, Nuttall, described as offensive a proposal that Spain will have the right to veto any Brexit deal over the issue of the Rock.
Spain ceded Gibraltar to the British 300 years ago.
Nuttall said: "I want to make it clear in this chamber today that the people of Gibraltar are proudly British. In 2002, 99 percent of Gibraltarians voted in a referendum against shared sovereignty with Spain and the wishes of the people should be upheld."
"I do however have a solution that will prevent Gibraltar being used as a pawn in these Brexit negotiations and end Spanish claims once and for all -- make Gibraltar a fully integrated part of the UK," he said.
"Give her, and our other Overseas Territories, their own Member of Parliament. Give Gibraltar real influence and a voice in Westminster and send a clear message that Gibraltar is not for sale," added Nuttall.
He said Britain could "learn from our continental cousins," citing as an example the way France gives representation to its Overseas Territories. "I propose that we should too," added Nuttall.
He said later: "I have been calling for this for many years and with the unique opportunities that Brexit has given us, I believe it as an idea whose time has come.
UKIP was set up in 1993 with the aim of campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union. Its co-founder and former leader Nigel Farage described the result of the British referendum last June as Britain's independence day when leave supporters won. UKIP holds 20 of the 73 British seats in the European Parliament.