Spain’s socialist prime minister has claimed victory on the issue of Gibraltar in Theresa May’s Brexit “deal” with the European Union.
The British Overseas Territory, located at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea on Europe’s southernmost tip, was ceded to the United Kingdom “in perpetuity” by Spain in 1713 during the War of the Spanish Succession.
Madrid recognises the Treaty of Utrecht which ceded Gibraltar, but continues to advance claims against it — although it has not mounted any serious military efforts to capture the city since the Great Siege of 1779 to 1783, which the British successfully resisted.
The biggest obstacle to Spanish sovereignty claims is the Gibraltarians themselves — a people with mixed ancestry and their own unique culture and dialect, who voted to remain British rather than Spanish by a margin of 99.6 percent in a 1967 referendum, and also rejected “co-sovereignty” arrangements pushed by Tony Blair’s leftist administration by 99 percent.
However, the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union — in which Remain-supporting Prime Minister Theresa May has made a raft of concessions over a massive range of issues — provided an opportunity for Spain to re-open the issue, and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez believes the withdrawal agreement and political declaration on future relationship between London and Brussels which she has signed up to hands him newfound leverage.
Spanish PM: Brexit Impasse on Gibraltar Cleared After UK ‘Accepted Conditions Imposed by Spain’ https://t.co/ck29jO7vRo
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 24, 2018
“We are going to resolve a conflict that has been going for over 300 years,” the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party leader asserted.
“[The deal] puts Spain in a position of strength in negotiations with the United Kingdom over Gibraltar that we have not had until now… regarding Gibraltar, Spain wins.”
Theresa May’s government insists “co-sovereignty” will not be up for grabs again as the future relationship with the EU is finalised during the so-called “transition” which her deal entails, but similar claims that she has taken back control of the country’s money, borders, and laws have left something to be desired.
May has capitulated to every single EU demand. She’s abandoned NI, and now Gibraltar. At no time does she push back. As Barnier said, they have given May the deal she asked for and she has given them everything they have asked for. It’s almost beyond words how bad this is.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) November 24, 2018
Remain politicians in Britain such as Peter Hain, a former Cabinet minister in the previous Labour government and current member of the House of Lords, have argued throughout the Brexit negotiations that the British government should indeed surrender to Madrid on co-sovereignty in order to please their EU “partners”.
“The only concession Gibraltarians would have to make is a Spanish flag flying on the Rock alongside a British one,” he wheedled in a column for the Guardian, as if this was an unimportant matter, and assured readers that “Pints of beer would still be served in British-style pubs” — as if that was a very important one.
However, much like Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Gibraltarians themselves are in no mood to compromise, with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo vowing: “The position for us is very clear: we will pay any price, we will bear any burden, we will meet any hardship, to continue our exclusive British sovereignty.”
Tough talk from Gibraltar https://t.co/uMPw3xk4HM
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 1, 2017