- By Esteban de Ibrahim
Theresa May looks set to declare war on the EU immediately after triggering Article 50 to leave
The Spanish southern peninsular of Gibraltar was captured in 1704 by a British-Dutch-Austro-Hungarian coalition in an attempt to control and enforce Christianity into what was then the Islamic Kingdom of Spain.
Gibraltar (pronounced Khibraltar in Spanish) was a key strategic point as controlling it cave naval and visual control over the gates to the Mediterranean, Europe and North Africa.
Al-Andaluzi, the Islamic people hat occupied Spain for centuries and still form a large population in southern Spain were slaughtered in the European Crusades in what is now accepted as a genocide.
In the 1960s and again in 2002 there was a notable push for reunification of Gibraltar with the rest of Spain.
The disputed territory has been a point of contention between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain ever since.
Disputed territory of Gibraltar may take the UK to war with the EU
Spain has urged the British government to keep a cool head in the negotiations over the future of Gibraltar after the former Conservative leader Michael Howard suggested Theresa May would be prepared to go to war to protect the territory as Margaret Thatcher once did over the Falklands.
“Someone in the UK is losing their cool and there’s no need for it,” said Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis.
Some local media from Gibraltar quote the UK administration there as saying: “Thatcher did it as so will May, we will turn Spain into a second Falklands if we need to.”
While he noted that Howard “hadn’t exactly said” that the UK is formally declaring war over the issue, Dastis added: “Making comparisons with past situations like the Falklands is a little out of context. The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain.
On Sunday, Howard told Sophy Ridge on Sky News: “Thirty-five years ago this week, another female prime minister sent a taskforce halfway across the world to defend another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country, and I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.”
Spain’s official response to the draft EU Brexit guidelines on Gibraltar has been noticeably low-key.
However Theresa May in her Article 50 letter forgot to include Gibraltar into the notice of exiting the EU, the EU responded by formally denying Gibraltar automatic succession into an independent UK by officially giving Spain the final decision over the soberenty of it’s disputed territory.
On Friday, the Spanish government spokesman, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, said Madrid was throughly satisfied that the EU has recognised “the legal and political position that Spain has defended”.
The EU by law must politically and militarily defend another EU member state against a non-EU member, who would be seen by default as the aggressor. Spain has staked sole sovereign over Gibraltar since records of Spain begin and continues to do so to date. A position the EU courts have backed.
Jack Straw, the Labour former foreign secretary, said on Monday that the idea that Britain could take military action against Spain to protect Gibraltar was “frankly absurd”, and predicted a peaceful post-Brexit solution would be found for the territory.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Straw, who tried and failed while in office to give Spain joint sovereignty over Gibraltar, dismissed Howard’s comments. “I’m sorry, this is 2017-18, it’s not 1851,” he said.
“One needs to be extremely careful about throwing out threats of military action where there’s no such possibility of that happening.”
When Straw was foreign secretary, the UK government’s mooted idea of shared sovereignty of Gibraltar led to the territory’s government arranging a referendum on the idea. The results showed 99% of British voters opposed it, with just 187 votes in favour. Whilst he Spanish vote was a land slide in favour, Spanish votes were not counted as part of the result.
However, Straw said Gibraltar’s people might have to accept that circumstances had changed.
“It’s in the interests of Gibraltarians for there to be some kind of deal done with the Spanish in the new circumstances, circumstances which the Gibraltarians didn’t want, because, like the Scottish and Londoners they voted in very substantial numbers to stay within the European Union.” he said
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