W2W - upping the rhetoric over Gibraltar

COULD we see another Falklands-style conflict as Spain casts a covetous eye over Gibraltar?

One or two of the more alarming press reports suggested this, laying out our respective Forces across their pages.

However, I can safely predict that war with Spain is a nonsense.

But, it is a sign of things to come that no sooner was Article 50 triggered than Spain ratcheted up the rhetoric.

For there in the EU’s draft negotiating guidelines was the provision that any decision affecting Gibraltar should be run past Spain.

This is, to put it mildly, provocative.

Gibraltar has been a British Overseas Territory since the Utrecht Treaty in 1713.

Its citizens bear British passports, the Rock is home to a British naval and airport and its strategic location gives the UK a base in the Mediterranean.

Rather more pertinent, perhaps, is the fact that Gibraltar’s citizens have twice voted overwhelmingly to remain British, the last time in 2002, by a majority of 99 per cent.

Like the Falklands, their wish is not respected, and Spain views Gibraltar as a corporate tax haven and home to smugglers.

Fishing rights have long been disputed, too, with our Navy periodically repelling incursions into our territorial waters, which are not recognised.

Rightly, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has rebuffed the claims: “We cannot conceivably change it without the express support and consent of the people of Gibraltar and the UK, and that’s not going to change.”

I concur, and hope that the EU’s Council of Ministers will withdraw this clause at their upcoming meeting.

To me, this unnecessarily aggressive stance by Spain is another reason why we are better off out and in charge of our own destiny.