Gibraltar quarrel shows Brexit could herald the final demise of the British Empire

Last Updated: November 21, 2018By Tags: , , , ,

Gibraltar: The latest obstacle to Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

It’s the same with all empires at the end – the subject territories sense that their erstwhile masters have become weak and flabby, and start splitting away, or their former owners swoop in to take back what they consider theirs.

We have already seen the Democratic Unionist Party reneging on its confidence and supply deal to prop up Theresa May’s minority Conservative government in fear that the former will happen if the parts of her Brexit agreement concerning Northern Ireland come into force.

Now it seems the latter is happening, with Spain threatening to reject the deal unless it is given a free hand to negotiate the future of Gibraltar with the UK, separately from the rest of the EU.

The intention is clear: Spain wants Gibraltar back, and believes that it will have a better chance of achieving this without the other EU countries holding it back.

Nobody can blame Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez and his foreign minister Josep Borrell because their logic makes perfect sense; the UK has shown nothing but weakness throughout the Brexit negotiations and it seems likely they believe Mrs May – or her successor, if she loses office as a result of domestic blunders – will have no choice but to concede the territory, in order to avoid harm to our international trading agreements.

Of course, we’ve all been told the British Empire ended more than half a century ago. But dependents like Gibraltar have helped the UK maintain itself as a strong military power with a stake in international affairs.

A threat to the UK’s ownership of even one such territory could create a cascade effect in which attempts are made to take many of them away at once – and the UK’s military capacity may no longer be great enough to prevent them all.

But the loss of even one will harm the country’s international reputation and accelerate its decline into backwater, “has-been” status – from which the world’s rising players may not allow it to rise for many lifetimes.

That’s just another potential consequence of David Cameron’s selfishness – and that of the Conservative Party that supported his halfwitted idea to have a referendum on our membership of the European Union when it really wasn’t a big issue to most people in the country.

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  1. Growing Flame November 22, 2018 at 9:06 am - Reply

    98% of Gibraltarian voters chose to REMAIN in the EU. They begged the British people to do the same as their close relationship with Spain means that a “hard border” would do them great harm.But, by a really narrow margin (a fact often ignored by Leavers who boast that the result was “clear”) British voters opted to ignore the appeals of Gibraltarians (and the residents of the North of Ireland)and chose to Leave.

    But, when the proverbial hits the fan in the Spain/Gibraltar dispute, many of the same Leave voters will declare their enduring love for “loyal, little Gibraltar” (and a bit less love for “sort- of loyal little Ulster”) and may even demand a shooting war to keep a grip on these territories. Conveniently forgetting that they turned their backs on the people of Gibraltar when they voted Leave.

    • Zippi November 25, 2018 at 8:23 am - Reply

      The thing is that there were conditions on the ballot paper. People voted to leave because they wanted to and they weren’t not going to, because other people wanted them to, the same as any voted; it is yours. All that you speak of should have been sorted by and been placed in the Referendum Bill. It is not the fault of the electorate bit of out M.P.s and the £ords. We, the people, vote in good faith; it is not for us to sort out the detail. If we want to leave, we should be able to. If want to stay, we should be able to and not held to ransom by any other nation. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming the electorate for the failings of our politicians. Now is not the time to start fighting with, or blaming each other.

      • Zippi November 25, 2018 at 8:14 pm - Reply

        *no conditions*

  2. Alan November 22, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Funny you didn’t notice the imminent separation of Scotland from the British Empire too. Too close to home? Or do you still hold your anti-SNP stance, which looks counter- productive since the SNP are right now prepared to support Labour in WM, yet Labour, right now, whether by commission or ommission, seem quite prepared to support tthe Conservatives. Is it relevant that I write as a staunch Labour voter till 2012?

    • Mike Sivier November 22, 2018 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      In light of everything that has happened over the last few days, why on Earth do you think Labour would ever support the Conservatives? Labour is bringing the Conservatives down!
      And why do you suggest Scotland is about to split from the UK? There is no evidence to suggest another referendum is even on the cards, let alone that it is “imminent”.

  3. che November 22, 2018 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Mike, have you any idea how the Channel Islands fare in all this ?

    • Mike Sivier November 22, 2018 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      No – they haven’t been mentioned at all in reports about Brexit.

      • che November 22, 2018 at 12:11 pm - Reply

        Strange, they are a British depedency as well, aren’t they ?

        • Mike Sivier November 22, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

          I think the implication is that the UK and all its dependencies are coming out of the EU. The only reason NI and Gibraltar are being discussed is that issues around them have been raised.

          Another commenter has mentioned Scotland, where the SNP has been vociferous about the fact that that country of the UK is not mentioned in the draft agreement. I would suggest that this is because the Conservatives who have been negotiating the UK’s withdrawal simply ignored them. This should tell the people of Scotland exactly what the Conservatives think – not of the SNP, but of the Scottish people as a whole.

          • Mike Sivier November 22, 2018 at 12:30 pm

            Apparently issues around Cyprus have been raised as well, but we haven’t heard about them, have we?

        • Mike Sivier November 22, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

          I’ve just downloaded and searched the draft agreement and the Channel Islands are mentioned – but only to state that all references to the UK also refer to them.

          • che November 22, 2018 at 12:41 pm

            Ah, ok, thank you.

      • Zippi November 25, 2018 at 8:28 am - Reply

        So, Scotland is not mentioned separately? This would imply that neither is Wales and that Northern Ireland is mentioned only because of its unique status.

      • Zippi November 25, 2018 at 8:34 am - Reply

        P.S. There is no independent mention of Scotland in any of the E.U. Treaties that I have downloaded; that being the case, it should not be unusual that Scotland has no independent mention.

  4. Barry Davies November 22, 2018 at 10:24 am - Reply

    The British empire has not existed for decades, there is no problem with us leaving the Eu and Gibraltar just a fake one created by reMAYn and the Eu to create a trety to leave that is twice the length of the Lisbon constitutional document.

  5. John November 22, 2018 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    When will the Spanish be giving Melilla and Ceuta back to Morocco? They’re 2 actual Spanish cities on the Moroccan mainland, and Morocco wants them back… The Spanish are generally great people, but their government’s tendency for hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me!

    • Growing Flame November 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm - Reply

      I wonder why the Spanish government is so insistent on having forceful discussions re Gibraltar. Given the way that the English voters completely ignored the Gibraltarians’ wishes to remain in the EU, and the way in which both Gibraltar and Spain are so mutually dependent on an open border between them, I would think that , gradually, over time, the differences between themselves would fade whereas the value of the link with stand-offish England would eventually erode any residual Gibraltarian loyalty.

      I note with appreciation , that over half the population of the north of Ireland ignored the Brexit ravings from England, abandoned any sense of Union Jack-waving loyalty, and voted to remain in the EU.

      • Zippi November 25, 2018 at 8:37 am - Reply

        People voted for themselves. You cannot assume to know why people voted. Saying that the people of England ignored the Gibraltarians’ wishes to remain is unfair and I would go so far as to say untrue. Question: how many of those who voted to remain considered the wishes of the Gibraltarians?

  6. nmac064 November 23, 2018 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Mike, Britain has not had an Empire for decades now. The country has a small overseas presence, but most definitely not an Empire. In December 1962, Dean Acheson, a former US Secretary of State, gave a speech at West Point Military Academy in which he said: ‘Great Britain has lost an Empire and has not yet found a role’. The whole Brexit nonsense is evidence that Acheson’s words are as true today as they were all those years ago.

    • Mike Sivier November 23, 2018 at 7:52 pm - Reply

      I was pointing out that we are set up to lose the last vestiges of that empire, and any international influence we may yet have.

      • Zippi November 25, 2018 at 8:12 pm - Reply

        As I understand it, that process was started when we joined the E.E.C.

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