The measure of Britain – who cares about Gibraltar?

95.9% of the population of the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar voted to stay in the EU.

British Overseas Territories are former members of the British Empire that have chosen to be internally ruled but remain under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of Britain, with the British Government responsible for their defence and foreign affairs.

Spain, under its monarch of the day, ceded Gibraltar to Britain in the 1713 Treaty Of Utrecht, following Britain’s 1704 capture of the Rock during the War of the Spanish Succession. Spain confirmed the territorial transfer in a series of later treaties but nevertheless twice – fourteen years and forty years later – tried and failed  to take Gibraltar back by force of siege.

To this day it is Spanish government policy to  pursue the retaking of the Rock by what is described as ‘peaceful means’ – although their interpretation of ‘peaceful’ is pretty elastic. Such means have included threatening displays of naval strength within Gibraltarian waters; and, on occasion, by closing that border with The Rock on the Spanish side.

This border lies across the narrow choke through which land  access to the small peninsular territory of the Rock is gained. Closing it prevents Gibraltarians who work across the border in Spain from getting to work – and stops supplies getting into the town.

Being part of the EU membership of Britain brought Gibraltar security against the harrassment of border closures, since one member may not close borders against another.

Om the 23rd June 2016, the British Referendum on EU Membership – which by a narrow overall majority of 52% to 48% voted to leave the EU, left Gibraltar, with its 95.9% vote to remain, in an infinitely more parlous position that the one claimed by the SNP, with Scotland voting 62% to remain.

Gibraltar now sees its very sustainability under threat – open again to the repeated threats of what Spain describes as ‘peaceful means’.

Scotland’s much vaunted wish to remain in the EU and to leave the British union to do so, is an economic nonsense, with Scottish Government statistics for 2014 showing  64% of Scotland’s total exports going to the rest of the UK – and 11.6% going to the EU.

Yet the persistent synthetic squeals from Scotland about ‘being dragged out of Europe against the will of the Scottish people’ gets all of our insular attention, while Gibraltar now has  powerful reason to doubt its very survival.

Unlike Scotland, which seems bizarrely keen to risk its 64% exports to the rest of the UK in favour of trying to build a few more percent on its 11.6% exports to the EU, Gibraltar wants London to accept its Chief Minister’s proposal to establish a common and single market between Gibraltar and the UK.

Our national media have paid little or no attention to the predicament of this British territory no further ‘overseas’ than the entrance to the Med.

Yet Gibraltar is campaigning hard to try to get the same input into the Brexit negotiations as is guaranteed to the administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This very week a high level group from Gibraltar has been doing the rounds of the British government in London, working to press their case for such inclusion – and aware of of the potential impotence of their operation since, as circumstances would have it, Ministers they lobbied before 13th July may not be in place after 14th July.

This has proved the case.

The Gibraltarian delegation  met with Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin and the Minister for Europe, David Lidington – and on 14th July Oliver Letwin was dropped altogether from the cabinet of Prime Minister, Theresa May and David Liddington had become Leader of the House of Commons. [Britain today does not have a Minister for Europe, the new brief being for a Brexit Secretary.]

Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, had said that he anticipated that Gibraltar would be ‘consulted’ as part of the discussions.

Gibraltar is, however, understandably determined that it should be fully involved, as will  be Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Its case for such involvement is irrefutable but who is listening?.

Britain appears not even to be interested in what is happening in Gibraltar, so where is there reason to trust us to look after the interests of the Rock in discussions where the home nations will  be fighting their own corners?

This parochial insularity is of course what took us out of Europe. We would grace that decision if we showed an engaged concern for the plight of Gibraltar rather than casually writing it off as collateral damage from our action.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • An interesting article, but why do you conclude that no-one is listening or talking to the representatives of Gibraltar?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    Speaking Frankly July 15, 2016 8:29 am Reply
  • Why does Spain want Gibraltar back when it will not give up its 2 enclaves in north Africa?

    Hypocrisy ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    Sauce for the Goose July 15, 2016 8:47 am Reply
  • Funny how, when the Spanish make a fuss about Gibraltar, they never mention their colonies in North Africa. They don’t seem in any hurry to hand them over to the adjacent countries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

    Lundavra July 15, 2016 9:13 am Reply
  • Economic nonsense is widespread, and far from confined to Scotland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    Arthur Blue July 15, 2016 11:21 am Reply
  • ‘Who cares About Gibraltar?’.

    Well, a few of my friends that support a football team from the East End of Glasgow were particularly interested in Gib this week. But, it has to be said, only for 90 mins. Probably same again next week and then the interest will not wane – it will disappear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    Simon July 15, 2016 4:02 pm Reply
  • Small populations who prove inconvenient to their ‘protectors’ risk getting the short straw.
    Reminds me of the Chagos islanders – forcibly evicted from their Indian Ocean archipelago by the Brits in favour of a long term lease to the United States for development of the strategic Diego Garcia military naval and air base.
    In our glorious democracy the voices of a handful of islanders counted for diddley-squat against maintaining the much-vaunted ‘special relationship’ with the USA.
    The islanders have failed in high court appeals to be allowed to return to their long-lost homes, and – as I understand it – most of them now live in a slum in St Louis, Mauritius.
    And then there’s the displaced Palestinians living for generations in that roasting slum in Jordan down at the north end of the Dead Sea – but we all know how the ripples from their outrage have widened over the years, and can even be identified in the horror in Nice last night.
    Who cares, indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    Robert Wakeham July 15, 2016 4:42 pm Reply
    • What was done to the Chagossians – under Harold Wilson’s government so not a matter of distant history but of contemporary moral dysfunction – is an enduring shame on Britain.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      newsroom July 15, 2016 7:11 pm Reply
  • Like Jocko, Gibbo”s electoral choice counts for Diddly Squat. So tough luck the Gibbos, you’ll do what you’re text.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Willie July 15, 2016 5:06 pm Reply
  • ” telt ” and Hollyrood will be telt too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Willie July 15, 2016 5:09 pm Reply
  • How has the EU helped Gibraltar? The petulant displays by the spanish over the border crossing, fishing rights disputes and marine incursions by spanish vessels in the last few years show that the EU is of little help if making Gibraltar’s existance more difficult is deemed to be helpful for some spanish politician’s career prospects.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    db July 16, 2016 10:30 pm Reply
  • I have to say that I do not understand why Spain wants Gib back apart from sentimentality, ie it used to be part of Spain. It is too small to have any real economic value to Spain. The fact that the Spanish have no inclination to return their 2 African enclaves to their surrounding countries seems illogical to say the least.

    There are no easy answers to problems like these. I would tend to support the view that the will of a majority of the residents should be accepted and supported the Falklands war on that basis.

    Then there is A Salmon’s ( and others ) attitudes to independence in Scotland which is solely based on sentimentality as it makes no economical sense either.

    Is fragmentation of nations/states the best way ahead for the world? Or should we be accepting that the future of the planet lies in alliances and pragmatism rather then historical incidents of history?

    Is the future an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Sauce for the Goose July 17, 2016 10:12 am Reply
    • National pride surely has a lot to do with it, and perhaps this is more ingrained in the Spanish psyche than it is in ours.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham July 17, 2016 11:35 am Reply

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