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Mini-rant about Gibraltar
Both sides are over-reacting massively here.
The Brexiteers are reacting to a (perhaps deliberate?) misunderstanding of the EU letter. It didn’t say that Spain would take over Gibraltar. It says that Spain will have a veto on any trade (or other EU-related) relationship between the EU and Gibraltar. That’s either a statement of fact – or a recognition that QMV won’t be used by other EU states to overrule Spain on Gibraltar-related issues (not sure which applies – possibly the latter, otherwise the letter wouldn’t have said what it did).
The idiotic Howard quote now means that Remainers are compounding the misdirection by implying that Howard is saying we’ll invade. Some other particularly idiotic Brexiteers have gone on to say this – but Howard didn’t. He just did some standard Brexit BS bluster about how ‘resolve’ can somehow make a Spanish veto go away… (it can’t).
All sides are missing the fundamental difference between the Falklands and Gibraltar. The Argentinians – as they discovered – didn’t have a veto. And while the Spanish can’t enforce a change in sovereignty, they do, and can block almost any other aspect of the relationship between Gibraltar and the EU. And despite what the Daily Telegraph says, we can’t use military force to overcome that.
Whether Spain want to use their veto or not is a different issue. They have a lot of voters who work in Gibraltar – and a whole bunch of other issues at stake in their relationship with Britain (and Gibraltar). The ‘punishment’ approach to Gibraltar didn’t work before – and there’s no reason why it should work now. Longer-term they have more to gain from a positive approach.
But if the UK Government and its proxies continue to behave as complete knobs – and pretend that they can unilaterally tell Spain what to do, it’s not impossible that Gibraltar will be caught in the resulting crossfire and suffer as a result. After all, Spain has voters and a sense of national dignity as well. We can’t barge around gratuitously pissing people off and expect there to be no come-back.