We Shall Never Surrender: Gibraltar, the EU, and the failure of May
As Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement looks set to be voted down in Parliament, another crisis begins to emerge: the issue concerning Gibraltar. Since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Gibraltar has been a British territory after it was ceded by the Spanish. What is perhaps more striking is the fact that in the 1967 referendum put forward to the citizens of Gibraltar, an immense majority of 99.64% voted for British rule, as opposed to becoming subject to Spanish governance. As we have seen, despite a previous Labour government proposing a vote on shared sovereignty with the Spanish in 2002, which again was a striking vote in favour of British sovereignty, British governments have always, rightfully, defended and protected the interests of their citizens abroad. Let us take Thatcher as an example, the Falklands War served to highlight the notion that no British government is prepared to simply give up their territories without a fight; after all, the primary purpose of a government is to protect its people and vehemently defend their interests, both at home and abroad. It is a disgrace therefore, that any British government would even consider the prospect of shared sovereignty of Gibraltar, a British territory. Yet, once again, May’s inadequacy and lack of true British fight has allowed Brussels, and indeed the Spanish government, to smell blood.
The recent announcement from Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, that Spain would consider vetoing May’s Brexit deal is no surprise of course. The deal the Prime Minister has ‘struck’ will essentially render the UK a vassal state of the European Union—far from a flexible and prosperous relationship. The UK will become the servant of Europe, but it is far healthier to be a free pauper than a rich slave. With the announcement by Sir Tim Barrow, stating that Gibraltar may not be subject to any trade agreement between the UK and EU, Spain will be granted a veto in the future regarding trade with the EU, a move which simply undermines the stability of Gibraltar and its citizens.
What is perhaps most worrying is the fact that the EU have found yet another way to grind down not only May’s deal, but the UK’s position in negotiations. First, there was the issue surrounding the prospect of a hard border in Northern Ireland, and now there is yet another example of a British territory being used as a pawn to strengthen the negotiating stance of the EU, a fact which is simply unacceptable. It is equally unacceptable that a British Prime Minister would so readily give in on such an issue—we must never go down without a fight. Given the likelihood that the deal will not pass through the Commons, at least initially, there is still hope for a Brexit which will restore the integrity of Great Britain, the sacred union, and the interests of British citizens in overseas territories. It has been blatantly clear since the 23rd June 2016, that this process was going to be strenuous. Instead of logical cooperation and mutual interest being pursued, the EU have chosen a path of trying to punish Britain for voting to reclaim our sovereignty; punish Britain for seeking to enhance its global trade outlook and strike trade deals with the rest of the world (something which cannot be done whilst remaining a member of the Customs Union or Single Market); punish Britain for wanting a Europe without big, bureaucratic ruling elites dictating what the destiny of its members shall be. It is time to ditch this lunacy and pursue a Brexit which puts Britain first, not the European Union. The principles of the leave vote—the idea of reclaiming control of our borders, our sovereignty, and law-making system—must be upheld. May’s deal simply fails to deliver on this.