The British government came within 24 hours of signing a controversial pact to share the sovereignty of Gibraltar with Spain and end 300 years of conflict over "The Rock".
Tony Blair and the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, were both keen to do a deal over the territory to "help our strategic relationship" with Spain, according to a new book. But the then Europe Minister, Peter Hain, reveals in his memoirs that secret talks with the Madrid government broke down at the last minute when the Spanish got cold feet. The book, Outside In, also reveals that the government was deeply concerned about "money laundering, tax evasion, drug trafficking and crime" associated with Gibraltar and had little sympathy for local politicians who insisted that the constitutional arrangements should not be altered. "Jack's desire to do something about Gibraltar coincided with my gut instinct that it was ridiculous in the modern age for Britain to have a colony on the tip of Spain nearly 2,000 miles away," he writes.