A British Member of the European Parliament has claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron warned Spain that if it did not stop bullying Gibraltar the UK would “make sure” Madrid did not get the 2020 Olympic Games.
According to the Local, Sir Graham Watson appeared on the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation and said: “I am told that PM, Cameron actually said to the Spanish Prime Minister, ‘If you carry on with these border queues we will make sure you don’t get the Olympic Games.”
Madrid came an embarrassing third place after the final vote in Buenos Aires, despite expecting to win to beat Tokyo and Istanbul. The vote came immediately after a British member of the International Olympic Committee Adam Pengilly had asked a series of difficult questions to the Madrid 2020 bid team during their final presentation.
David Cameron’s spokesman was adamant that no such threat was ever issued, claiming the UK “did not favour any of the three finalists over others, and there was absolutely no UK attempt to influence any of the bids”.
Also, contrary to popular understanding, IOC members do not represent countries, or serve them in any way. The IOC is mostly a self-selecting oligarchy, meaning the existing members appoint new ones to serve along their side. This is done by simple majority amongst the 106 current members.
Mr Pengilly, 36, is one of the minority of IOC members, having been elected by fellow athletes from around the world. Therefore he cannot be hired or fired by the Prime Minister or anyone else in the UK. Nor could he be instructed to ask difficult questions, or vote in a certain way.
The comments of Sir Graham Watson are likely to be seized upon by Spain as evidence that the British have behaved badly in defending the rights of the people of Gibraltar. As an elected British politician and knight of the realm his intervention is likely to represent a major public relations coup for the Spanish government.
Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713. Since then Spain has been keen to see the territory returned, but the local population has resisted any deal with Madrid.
On a number of occasions the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has offered to negotiate handing over the Rock, but these attempts have been met with spirited campaigns from Gibraltans. Sir Graham’s actions will once again raise suspicions that Liberal elites are hell bent on giving Gibraltar away.