Friday, 31 March 2017

Gibraltar: Voted overwhelmingly for both in and out.

The Spanish have seized the opportunity presented by the UK's withdraw from the EU to attempt to gain some or maybe even all, control of the Rock. Long a dispute between Spain and the UK, Gibraltar itself, much like the Falkland Islands, which are also British Overseas Territories, have always, always, always voted to remain dependent upon the UK.

Gibraltar is tiny. 6.7km. Population 30,000. If it was in the UK it would be the same size as Windsor. or Pontypridd or Motherwell. Gibraltar was captured in 1704 from the Spanish when that dying superpower empire's efforts to peacefully pass control of its global empire to various factions failed.
Gibraltar was formally transferred to British control in the peace treaties that ended the wars of Spanish Succession in 1713. And there it has remained, seriously annoying the Spanish, ever since.

During WW2 Gibraltar, guarding the 8 mile gap between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, was the most important 2.5 miles in the world. The significant Italian navy couldn't get out. The less significant, but still powerful German navy couldn't get in. And whether the Vichy French navy [the Toulon navy alone was the size of the German navy] was sunk or switched sides to the axis, was far less of an issue if it couldn't get free from its lake. The Allied bottle of Alexandria and Port Said had its cork at Gib. 
A huge fortress naval base. Unlike Singapore properly defended. But like Singapore only really vulnerable to an attack from land. The 1940 fascist Spanish leader general Franco was promised Gibraltar if he allowed and assisted a German led attack on the base. He declined.

Gibraltar's referendum decision to reject Spanish influence in 1967 led to the permanent closure of the border. Something that could easily occur again now. It was only reopened through pressure from the EU and UK when Spain wanted to join the EU. The border was reopened in 1985 on Spain's accession.

Gibraltar has voted overwhelmingly for both UK sovereignty and EU membership.
It may not be able to have both.

The UK will almost certainly ignore any Spanish claims on Gibraltar. Reject any sort of borders or controls that will not apply to the UK as a whole and transfer no powers to Spain. or to the EU, the UN or any other made up seemingly benevolent but ultimately malevolent transitional European body that is conjured into being. 

The EU knows this. Which is why its happy to encourage the Spanish to kick off. It can use the issue to extract a concession or two and then sop the Spaniards with some UK fishing waters or something later on.
Its a tough one for the UK. It has to be a red line for May. And I'm sure it is.

BUT .. Is there another way to solve the problem?

Too tiny for a country. Even Andorra is double the population. Too reliant on Spain's border to ignore them. Gibraltar needs a backer. And it could get one in the shape of the EU itself.

Monaco is a principality. It is not a formal EU member. But it does share in the customs union and border controls and is a user of the Euro. But it is definitely NOT in the EU. As anyone who experiences its zero percent internal corporation tax will appreciate.

{unrelated Corbynism : Monaco's low tax, low wage, edge of Europe status gives its citizens the highest standard of living in Europe.}

Monaco is administered by France in much the same way that Gibraltar is by Britain. In that it really isn't and they can do what they like on the understanding that the home nation can make use of the convenient backdoor loopholes for its own ends as and when it wants.

Liechtenstein. San Marino. Andorra. Vatican City and Monaco are all micro states with some EU involvement. All are completely sovereign but are all dependent on another major power for their defence. And this is a problem for nobody at all. 

Gibraltar could demand microstate status, like the others. Agree to taking the Euro and enjoying same agreements those anachronistic nations have with the rest of the EU. 

Worth a shot?


Blue Eyes said...

I never understand these "claims" by other countries. Even if Spain had full sovereignty over Gib it would have to be extremely careful what it actually did because people like a bit of a say in how their world is run these days. Argentina could be "given" the Falklands tomorrow but unless it wanted to occupy the islands by force not much could change.

Maybe we could do a swap. We keep Gibraltar with an easy border and no further silliness from Spain and in return the EU gets Scotland?

K said...

Gibraltar is funny. They were grandfathered into the EU but not the customs union, the VAT area, the Schengen area, the Eurozone, etc. I assume they also took the continental route of not even properly implementing most EU directives and just ignored what they didn't like. So for all intents and purposes they were never really in the EU.

From what I understand is is mostly Spanish workers who cross into Gibraltar to work there and not the other way around. So I doubt they really give a crap. Especially when their economy depends on the UK military, dodgy online gambling, and tax evasion.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

This stunt shows how malevolent Brussels is. At this point we really should tell them the following
1. We are leaving now. Sovereignty is asserted, not granted by someone else.
2. We are calling in our loans through the IMF & the European development bank
3. You owe us our share of the assets
4. No further intelligence/military cooperation unless you get in line.

The fundamental truth is we are paying circa 1.5% of our GDP to 'enjoy' a substantial trade deficit & be ordered about by the Germans and the mayor of Luxembourg. We should get out NOW.

There really is nothing to discuss except customs cooperation. Our Quislings are inching towards some sort of shitty association agreement and they need to be stopped.

Anonymous said...

Our Quislings are inching towards some sort of shitty association agreement and they need to be stopped.

Any suggestions? Send them to Coventry? Or Gibraltar.

How about suspending the rule of law and shooting them. Or are you simply off your trolley seeing threats all around.

Electro-Kevin said...

It's worth remembering that Spain is helping the UK stay together (Catalonia)

This is regardless of the decision to leave the EU.

Nick Drew said...

I know I keep citing the Graun, good and bad ...

& today's has some good bits: (my emphasis)

"The tiny British overseas territory, which keeps watch over the only entrance to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, is important to the Royal Navy and as a listening post. The EU has made a contentious border issue a bargaining counter. This, sadly, is an expected but needless provocation. One suspects the EU is posturing. The other two parts of the UK which share land borders with the EU and remain neuralgic for Westminster – Northern Ireland and the 254sq km of military bases in Cyprus – were singled out by the EU for “imaginative” solutions that retain the status quo."

they (the Graun) got it right, esp Cyprus. There is nothing on the planet that will shift us from Cyprus and if the Eurofeds even glance in its direction it would be a massive miss-step & the might of the USA (people they respect, not just Trump) will descend on them

the key to Gib is to get it included into that great Mediterranean no-go area which doesn't get mentioned again

overall, BTW, this is shaping nicely as a classic negotiation (and one it would be very enjoyable to take part in!) and nothing in this "provocation" is cause for the slightest dismay, whatever the naifs at the Guardian think. The running commentary from the media is obviously going to be excrutiating but there we go, it's their job. It is to be hoped the grown-ups decide to run the main strand of discussion in a way that isn't just permanantly being aired each morning in the papers - who'll make it up anyway. What a game.

Blue Eyes said...

It's worth remembering that the Catalans are much more interested in self-government than the Scots and are net contributors to the Spanish purse.

I like Spain a lot and hav me been several times. But I don't understand their 18th-century attitude to territory and power-projection. Imagine the guffaws from British voters if May tried to reclaim Calais.

Blue Eyes said...

Have been rather than hav me been.

Blue Eyes said...

ND I completely agree on your final point. We have to filter out the noise and not get whipped up one way or another. I was pleased to see the other day on the telly box a clip of the Spanish PM noting that the UK was the biggest single investor in Spain...

Electro-Kevin said...

I liked Spain too - particularly inland. Nice people.

Electro-Kevin said...


How I wish you WERE involved in negotiations !

Dick the Prick said...

The Gib head honcho was on LBC this morning with Matt Frei of Ch4 Made-up-News fame and was somewhat steely in his commitment to remain of Blighty. As BE has mentioned, the punters are rather important in this and I think it's somewhat preposterous for Spain to claim ownership and the subsequent transitional methods to achieve such - troops on the streets? Behave.

What BQ has highlighted was that Franco was an almost parochial fascist - Hitler offered him loads and yet he never budged - perhaps like EK and BE, he liked Spain too - where would be the fun of European fascism when he was quite content at home? There's probably some interesting further reading there on our summer vacs.

Here's fun; Mark Steel does touring comedy gigs taking the mickey out of perhaps the less well visited towns in Blighty (the whole series is brilliant, he got my home town bob on). Here's the link for the one in Gib - it's defo British and all the water in Biscay Bay couldn't wash it away.

Nick Drew said...

Franco was to Hitler / 'mainstream' facism what Tito was to Stalin / communism

a very confident and independent pain in the arse

Nick Drew said...

Franco was to Hitler / 'mainstream' facism what Tito was to Stalin / communism

a very confident and independent pain in the arse

Dick the Prick said...

@ND - it does seem that way, a bit of an unambitious fascist - kill or imprison domestic enemies but world domination is just too trying.

There's a story about Tito inviting Motorhead to do a gig where Lemmy, as is his SOP, got absolutely mullered - rather peculiar.

For an alternative op-ed, here's Craig Murray stating that Gibraltar isn't really British and we should give it up. I like the fella but sometimes he's a bit of a knob (deleted my comment too - the humanity!)

Electro-Kevin said...

People are shitting themselves over the £50bn Tusk demand and leaving the EFTA.

What's the Unslickers' take on it ?

Personally I think we've already gone over a cliff edge whilst in the EU.

My boys will be a fraction as wealthy as my parents and I am already far less wealthy than them too. My inheritance is already going to my boys help with tuition fees and doubtless we'll be backing their mortgages too.

The debt is never ending.

If that's not a cliff edge I don't know what is but Remainers never ever mention it.

Blue Eyes said...

The £50bn is a tot-up of all the possible liabilities without taking into account any mitigating factors and completely ignoring the assets. Nobody believes the figures. As one of the two big contributors we own a significant chunk of all the assets such as the expensive buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg, and so on. The big problem for the EU is for the Germans and Poles in particular to avoid falling out over the ongoing budget after we leave. The Germans will not wear a higher contribution and the Poles won't wear a reduction in subsidies.

As for a trade agreement, Merkel can say what she likes in the run-up to the election but half - HALF - of Germany's growth in the last decades has been due to UK demand.

Nick Drew said...

The big problem for the EU is for the Germans and Poles in particular to avoid falling out over the ongoing budget after we leave. The Germans will not wear a higher contribution and the Poles won't wear a reduction in subsidies

that's why I think Ireland can be seen as a natural candidate to follow us to the door - they have just achieved the enviable status of net contributor

Electro-Kevin said...

Thank you both.

So Dublin being the New London is bunk then.

(I have my own arguments against this being so btw)

dearieme said...

Since Gib voted "remain" my patience with it has expired. We should just sell it to Mr Putin. Or, if he doesn't fancy raising the wind, we could sell it to Russia.

andrew said...

... and this is why the euro zone will fail


There has to be transfer payments
(otherwise the greeks will starve or emigrate en masse)

When we go, someone has to pay about 8.6bn pa more
(The germans wont pay any more, the poles wont start paying)

Ever closer union costs ever more.
(The end)


One test of 'is that province part of the country':

Does england worry about the 4-5bn pa that is transferred to scotland
- Barely noticed.

Does england worry about the 8.6bn pa that is transferred to the EU
- Clearly.

Now, which transfer payment yields the better value?

Blue Eyes said...

EK a bigger reason that Dublin won't be the new London is that the Irish taxpayet won't want it to be. They got much more burned by their bail-out than we did - how much will they want to risk that again times ten to get HSBC to move over?!

Dick the Prick said...

@BE - with the Oirish govn't rejecting the EU imposed tax receipt, there's £13bn up for grabs! It's rather vulgar. I'm so glad the Irish are 'appealing' it. Fiscal harmonisation is a political end not economic. I can get my head around regulations and even staffing but to push for EU tax homogeny whilst still working as a shite cartel really took the biscuit. There's no way the case against Ireland stands with any rational understanding unless it herbingers for the future.

Electro-Kevin said...

Thanks BE.

Surely it will be more interesting if Dublin has the full backing of the Eu behind it ?

Blue Eyes said...

DTP I wasn't referring to the sweeheart corporation tax arrangements...

Not sure what you mean EK. Now even if Dublin (or any other EU city) had some sort of backing it would still suffer from being a tenth of the size of London. London sometimes struggles to get the "talent" to fill all the spots in its successful industries, how will Dublin manage? Not to mention there would need to be a hell of a building boom.

The most likely losers (again) of London's collapse would be "European" industry, the most likely gainer: New York City.

visc said...

Just to mention the reason the Irish were burnt by their bail out was due to utter corruption at the top - never forget the property loans made to very small group of people were astoudingingly corrupt even by dodgy deal standards,and then they bankrupted the country at the behest of the same people and the EU and no one was held to account or jailed. Where are he IRA death squads when you need them?