Spain has gloated that it is being given control over the British territory of Gibraltar’s borders as part of a side deal between Boris Johnson’s administration and the European Union.
Prime Minister Johnson had submitted to the EU’s demands that Gibraltar, known as the Rock, should be cut out of the main Brexit negotiations to appease neighbouring Spain, and it was not included in his Christmas Eve deal.
With just a day to go before the end of the so-called “transition” period, the former Crown Colony faced a localised no-deal Brexit including a hard border with Spain, and little contingency planning by the Johnson administration in place to ameliorate the situation.
At the eleventh hour, a side deal was struck to keep the border open, to the relief of most Gibraltarians — but at the price of the EU being allowed to post its men in the Rock to enforce border checks, with the Spanish claiming the work would fall to their own officals.
“Spain, as member-state representing the [European] Union, will be responsible for enforcing Schengen [border controls] and will be assisted by [EU border agency] Frontex for around four years, conducting controls both in Gibraltar’s port and airport,” boasted Spanish foreign minister María Aránzazu ‘Arancha’ González Laya.
Tough talk from Gibraltar https://t.co/uMPw3xk4HM
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 1, 2017
Gibraltar, which has been in British hands since 1704 — technically longer than British state has existed as a unified polity, with the Union between Scotland and England only being agreed in 1707 — has long feared Spain’s “rancid” claims to its territory.
The locals, an eclectic mix of Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese, and other historic populations, rather than a majority ethnic British colony, have twice in modern times voted to retain their exclusive British links, rejecting Spanish sovereignty by 99.64 per cent in a 1967 referendum and a New Labour scheme for so-called “shared sovereignty” by 98.97 per cent in 2002.
The Gibraltar Social Democrats (GSB) party, among others, therefore gave the Brexit deal only a cautious welcome, perturbed by the Spanish government’s claims of a direct role in controlling their borders.
“[W]hether Spain would exercise controls or jurisdiction in Gibraltar requires clarification,” the party said, warning that “It would be unacceptable for there to be any prospect of Spanish officers exercising jurisdiction in Gibraltar.”
Senior Eurocrat Applauds Spanish Warship ‘Invading’ Gibraltar Waters https://t.co/vdj4ZA8fvZ
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 7, 2018
“I wholeheartedly welcome today’s political agreement between the UK and Spain on Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU. The UK… will remain totally committed to the protection of the interests of Gibraltar and its British sovereignty,” claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson — although he did not explain how British sovereignty over the Rock squares with allowing European Union and possibly Spanish agents into the territory to control its borders.
The Gibraltar deal is perhaps less troubling that the one for Northern Ireland, however — an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (as the name would suggest) which has now been annexed to the EU for regulatory purposes, with EU officials to be posted to the province to impose a partial trade border against the British mainland.
'Black Friday Agreement': Amazon Mistakenly Declares Northern Ireland Not Part of UK https://t.co/x6SYqqFkqn
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 15, 2020