Gibraltar’s sudden rise to prominence in the Brexit negotiations has resulted in the predictable proliferation of ignorant comments and opinions that the internet seems to excel in. I have read an amazing amount of tosh. So, to counteract said tosh, here are some facts given that I have lived in Spain and Gib for nearly twenty years.
- Gibraltar is not an island. Nor is it in Southern Spain. It is an isthmus of less than three square miles, connected to Spain at the north end, which involves crossing the airport runway. It is at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula.
- Gibraltarians are not English or part of the UK. They are Gibraltarian with full British citizenship. We are a British Overseas Territory, not a colony. Although this status is argued at the UN (influenced by Spain of course) which insists we need to be decolonised. We think we are. The UK thinks we are and wants us taken off the non-self-governing territories list.
- We have our own (appalling) government, but foreign affairs and defence are the responsibility of the UK.
- In the 1967 sovereignty referendum the vote to remain British was 99.64%. That nice man Mr Franco then closed the border in 1969 and it wasn’t reopened until 1985 (ten years after his death). It was in fact Mr Franco who raised the whole issue in the fifties and Spain has hung onto this one ever since.
- In 2002 we had another referendum. The result wasn’t quite so clear. Only 98.97% voted to remain British.
- Gibraltar was captured in 1704 by an Anglo-Dutch force during the Spanish war of succession, and ceded to Great Britain by Spain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht. It was ceded in perpetuity. For the benefit of some serious thickos out there, that means for ever.
- Some of Spain’s many spurious arguments are that this treaty only referred to the original city area and that the runway shouldn’t have been built (it came in helpful during the war for planes though).
- Spain, while we are on the topic of spurious arguments, isn’t exactly rushing to hand back its enclaves in North Africa. Morocco would quite like to have Ceuta and Melilla.
- If Spain held Gibraltar as well, it would be in sole control of the entrance to the Mediterranean, with Ceuta in North Africa and Gib in Europe. The straits are only eight miles wide and even today half the world’s seaborne trade passes through. It is, therefore, of some strategic importance and was particularly significant in WW2 for the RN.
Let’s look at some of the (ridiculous) comments for handing Gib to Spain.
- ‘It’s part of Spain.’ No it isn’t. See Fact 1.
- ‘They speak Spanish.’ Actually Gibraltarians speak llanito, which although mainly Andalucían Spanish, includes some Genoese, Hebrew, Maltese and Portuguese. It also includes English, and both full sentences and conversations can switch rapidly from one to the other.
- ‘It’s too far from England, who cares?’ Gibraltarians maybe? The 99% who prefer to remain British. See the referendum results. And the point about strategic importance (duh).
- ‘I went there on holiday and wasn’t impressed.’ Fine. If you don’t like old architecture, winding streets, a Moorish castle, Europa Point, Parson’s Battery, Rosia Bay, Catalan Bay, the ancient baths below the museum, 100 ton gun, the tunnels, the park on the Upper Rock, the only wild macaques in Europe, and somewhere you can walk safely at all times of the day and night, that’s your choice. But it doesn’t give you a say in sovereignty decisions.
- ‘They are hypocrites, they voted to remain in the EU so Spain can have them.’ So did Scotland. Give Scotland to Denmark? In the Brexit referendum, 96% of the populace voted to remain. Which is less than the percentage of people wishing to remain British. There’s no denying Gibraltarians like to have their cake and eat it, but while I may have voted out, I can see why people wouldn’t want the status quo to change, and, they probably anticipated problems with an out vote. To wit, the delights of six lane frontier queues as the weather warms up. The local Guardia Civil on the frontier have been replaced by the evil black beret brigade. Rumours are flying round about them pulling a gun on a family last week.
That smug complacent self-satisfied little piece of scum, Peter Hain, recently wrote in the Grauniad about his brilliant attempt to secure a joint sovereignty deal with the support of Jack Straw, Tony Blair, and then Gibraltarian leader, Peter Caruana. According to Hain, Aznar (Spain’s PM at the time) wobbled. Meanwhile at the same time, 98.97% of people voted against the idea. Maybe that had something to do with it not happening? Sleazy little toerags doing deals behind closed doors that THE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT. Sorry for shouting, but it needs saying. Smug Hain says that if his wonderful brilliant deal had gone through, we wouldn’t be having problems now. Yes we would. Idiot. First joint sovereignty, then full sovereignty. Give Spain an inch, they will want the full mile. I wonder about the so-called level of intelligence of politicians. It’s probably in inverse proportion to their greed. Self-seeking self-important shitheads like Hain should keep right out of it.
However there is a big issue here. It is called self-determination. Which seems to be ignored by tossers like Hain, Straw and Blair. And various others who insist that Gib is just something to be tossed around at will. Also, it needs to be pointed out it was only Spanish for a couple of hundred years. A mere drop in the Mediterranean. It was Moorish for far longer. Let’s give Al-Andalus (Andalucía) back too while we’re at it.
And the other issue here is territorial integrity. Which is the biggest red herring ever. It is code for give little places to nasty big bullies. Give NI to Ireland. Give Wales to England. Give Scotland to England too (ha Nicola!). Give Monaco to France. Andorra to er well, either France or Spain.
No. Just no.
With which it is time for a distraction. Many thanks to my brill friend of excellent photo skills for turning Snowy into Anubis :) Thank you Vicky.
And, to finish with, a book review. A mystery set in Scotland.
Deadly Inheritance by Karen Randau
A decent read, about an American, newly wed couple who visit Scotland to meet the husband’s British grandfather. Except, natch, he’s dead. The couple then become murder targets and someone else gets killed instead of him.
I was drawn to this book by the sheer location. Who can fail to love a book that involves Edinburgh, the Trossachs, Loch Lomond, Oban, and malt whisky?
With a few murders, money, family secrets and intrigue?
I thought this was far better than its predecessor, Deadly Deceit. It was better constructed, the plot was logical, although I was left guessing who the baddies were right until the end. Plenty of red herrings in this one for amateur sleuths. Or, useless sleuths in my case.
The story was unveiled nicely and the characters came to life as they were developed through the book.
I liked the sub-plot of hidden family history. Who has a family without secrets? Most of us don’t even know our real family history.
The female main character, Rita, is as tough as ever, although her new husband Cliff, is maybe a little wooden in parts. But when he decided to claim his Scottish inheritance and run the family farm I totally empathised. Did he though? Read the book.
Only one thing confused me. Whenever Rita and Cliff stayed at a hotel, they were given two keys. Two? Is this an American thing (the author is American) or have hotels changed? Never in my life have I stayed anywhere and received more than one key to a room. In fact even in the late 90s, it was usually a card, not a key.
Karen comes from the southwestern USA and has been writing and telling stories since elementary school. She holds a degree in journalism/public relations from the University of Texas at Austin and has had a long career in marketing communications.
In her work with an international non-profit, she has traveled to numerous developing countries, witnessing famines, violence, and hopeful people working to overcome abject poverty.
Book provided by Red Moon Book Tours.