Britain to declare war on Spain over Gibraltar? No chance, says Theresa May

SPANISH foreign minister Alfonso Dastis thinks Britain is ‘losing its cool’ after former Conservative MP Lord Howard hinted at a Falklands War-style battle to keep Gibraltar.

But UK prime minister Theresa May laughed off any ideas of armed conflict over the Rock.
“Bringing past situations like the Malvinas [sic, referring to the Falklands] into the equation is a bit out of context,” remarked Dastis.

“I think someone in the UK is losing their cool, but there’s no grounds for that.”

As for Lord Michael Howard’s allegedly stating Britain ‘would go to war like it did in the Falklands to protect the people of Gibraltar’, Dastis claimed: “He didn’t exactly say that.”

But Spain’s foreign office leader did not clarify exactly what Lord Howard did, in fact, say.

This said, he has been quoted as stating: “Another woman prime minister, 35 years ago, sent a taskforce halfway across the world to protect another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country.

“And I’m absolutely clear that our current woman prime minister will show the same resolve in relation to Gibraltar as her predecessor did.”

And Conservative PM Theresa May does not seem to be ready to send in the Army just yet.

She was cobbled by journalists on a flight to Jordan, who quoted wartime leader Winston Churchill at her and enquired whether the Gibraltar tug-of-war would be ‘jaw jaw, not war war’.

Mrs May reportedly laughed at the question and said: “It’s definitely jaw jaw.

“What we’re doing with all countries in the EU is sitting down and talking to them,” she insisted.
“We are going to be talking about the best possible deal for the UK and for those countries, Spain included.”

However, she stressed that ‘Britain’s policy on Gibraltar has not, and will not change’.

“Paying for Brexit with the Rock would be letting Spain act like a thug,” said Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabián Picardo

Well-known for ‘telling it like it is’ and ‘calling a spade a spade’, Picardo has never minced words over the issue of Spain’s 400-year claim for sovereignty of the enclave.

And even less mincing has happened since Spain launched in when Mrs May apparently omitted to mention the Rock in what has now become known as ‘the Article 50 letter’.

Referring to Council of Europe president Donald Tusk, ‘who has been given to using the analogies of divorce and divorce petition’, Picardo said: “He’s behaving like a cuckolded husband who is taking the children away.”

Picardo says the European Union is ‘allowing’ Spain to ‘bully’ Gibraltar – whose people overwhelmingly want to remain British and who, in 96% of cases, voted for the UK to remain in the EU – and has called for Tusk to remove all references to the Rock from his directive on Brexit negotiations.

“The withdrawal of that reference would be a sign of good faith and goodwill,” he stressed.

Native Gibraltarians were asked in a referendum, called by the then Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw in 2002, if they were willing to allow joint sovereignty between Britain and Spain.

Back then, 99% voted to stay British, which Straw now calls ‘an affront’ to Spain’s ‘sense of national identity’.

“It’s a bit like having a part of Dover owned by Spain,” he explained.

But Straw said there was no way the Rock would cause a war between the two countries.

“The threat of military action is frankly absurd, and reeks of 19th-century jingoism,” he argued.
“Britain leaving the EU is giong to result in all sorts of problems popping up.

“While Britain is in the EU, we hold equal cards with Spain, but once it leaves, the situation will be reversed with the remaining EU-27 holding the cards.”

Published ThinkSpain 4 April 2017

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