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Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

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Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Ivan on Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:34 pm

Tension with Spain has flared up again recently, after Gibraltar began the construction of an artificial reef in the waters off the Rock with 73 blocks of hollowed-out concrete. In retaliation, Spain has introduced stricter border checks at the crossing and is considering a 50 euro (£43) crossing fee, which is probably illegal under EU law. Britain is threatening legal action against the Spanish government, while dozens of Spanish fishing vessels have started protesting near the artificial reef, which they claim is designed to disrupt their fishing fleet.
 
Reclamation of Gibraltar for Spain by peaceful means has been the policy of the Spanish government for many years.
 
The history
 
Royalty has a history of in-breeding and the result can sometimes be a misfit like Charles II of Spain, who was once referred to as “the last stunted sprig of a degenerate line”. He was physically weak and mentally unstable but ruled Spain from 1665 until 1700. The main interest of his reign focused on when it would end, and because he had no children to succeed him, on the will which he made just a couple of months before his death. To cut a long story short, the will meant that Spain could end up being ruled by France. The Dutch and English didn’t want that and declared war on France in 1702. During the war, when returning from a failed expedition to Barcelona in 1704, an Anglo-Dutch fleet laid siege to Gibraltar and it surrendered after three days.
 
Gibraltar had in earlier times been occupied by Vandals and Visigoths, and from 711 until 1462 it was under the control of Moslems. (The name ‘Gibraltar’ comes from the Arabian words ‘Gabal-Al-Tariq’, meaning ‘the mountain of Tariq’). It was then under Castilian and, after unification, Spanish rule until the English and Dutch took it in 1704. The Tory government told the governor of Gibraltar to expel all foreign (that is, Dutch) troops in 1711, in order to strengthen Britain’s claim to sole control of the Rock. After the war, the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 forced the Spanish to cede Gibraltar to Britain for ever. Gibraltar, at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, was to prove a useful and strategic base over the years.
 
Between 1713 and 1728, there were seven occasions when British ministers were prepared to bargain Gibraltar away as part of their foreign policy. However, Parliament always frustrated such attempts. Spain tried to recapture Gibraltar in 1727 and between 1779 and 1783, but didn’t start to pursue its claim again until 1954, when Mrs Windsor went there to mark the 250th anniversary of its capture. That angered Spain’s fascist dictator, General Franco, who imposed restrictions on the freedom of movement between Gibraltar and Spain.
 
When papers were released under the thirty-year rule in 2002, it emerged that Ted Heath’s Tory government had in 1971 considered exchanging sovereignty for a 999-year lease on Gibraltar, as it was felt it had ceased to be of any military or economic value, but nothing came of that idea. When Spain joined the EU in 1986, its border with Gibraltar was fully re-opened.
 
The case for Gibraltar remaining British
 
Gibraltar has been a British overseas territory for 300 years now, so why change the status quo?
 
The vast majority of the citizens of Gibraltar want to remain British. When a referendum was held in 1967, over 99% of Gibraltarians voted to stay British, maybe in some cases because they feared being ruled by Franco. In another referendum in 2002, the people of Gibraltar soundly rejected a joint sovereignty proposal on which Spain and Britain were said to have reached "broad agreement”.
 
Spain owns its “plazas de soberania” (“places of sovereignty”) in Morocco, the largest of which are the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. If it can continue to own them, despite vocal protests from the Moroccan government, how can it possibly complain if Britain owns Gibraltar?
 
The case for Gibraltar being returned to Spain
 
Britain captured Minorca in 1708, and at the Treaty of Utrecht five years later, Spain was also forced to cede that island to Britain for ever. However, Minorca was returned to Spain at the Treaty of Paris in 1783. We captured it again in 1798, before once more returning it to Spain at the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, despite protests from Horatio Nelson. If Minorca can be handed back, why not Gibraltar?
 
Most of the people of Gibraltar are not of British origin. Many settled there from Genoa, Spain and Portugal, plus a large number of Jews from Morocco. Successive Spanish governments have insisted that the Gibraltar dispute is a purely bilateral matter between Britain and Spain, and that the current Gibraltarians are mere settlers whose role and will are irrelevant. This principle appears to have been reflected in UN resolutions on the decolonisation of Gibraltar in the 1960s, which focused on the "interests" and not the "wishes" of the Gibraltarians.
 
Many Gibraltarians own second homes on the mainland of Spain. Over 800,000 ex-pat Brits reside permanently in Spain, but they’re still British. If Gibraltar was returned to Spain, wouldn’t Gibraltarians still be British? It would be the land that was becoming part of Spain, not the people. And in any event, Britain, Spain and Gibraltar are all part of the EU, so why the big deal?
 
Gibraltar is a tax haven which is actually harming Britain, so why would we want to keep it? As Richard Murphy writes: “It’s a little ironic that as the UK demands fair treatment for Gibraltar from Spain, it has had to itself declare war on Gibraltar as the centre of the offshore gambling industry that costs the UK hundreds of millions in lost tax revenue each year.”
 
After Israel captured the Golan Heights in 1967, it started moving in Jewish settlers. Many of the local population of 100,000 fled as a result of the Six-Day War. By 2010, there were around 20,000 Jewish settlers there. If and when the settlers form the majority of the population, and they no doubt decide that they want to remain Israeli citizens, will that legitimise the occupation? Not in the eyes of many people, I suspect. Doesn’t that undermine the “wishes of the people” argument for not returning Gibraltar to Spain?
 
Isn’t it time for Britain to give up the last vestiges of empire? Gibraltar was stolen from Spain in 1704. The passage of time doesn’t lessen a crime. How would we feel if a foreign country had taken over Cornwall?
 
So, should self-determination, or territorial integrity, be the criteria as to who owns Gibraltar?
 
Sources:-
 
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/spanish-boats-in-gibraltar-protest-over-artificial-reef-8772977.html
 
Roger Lockyer, ‘Habsburg & Bourbon Europe 1470-1720’, Longman, 1974.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_history_of_Gibraltar
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disputed_status_of_Gibraltar
 
http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2013/08/17/the-uk-declares-economic-warfare-on-its-gibraltar-tax-haven/
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golan_Heights
 
(To clear up any confusion over the use of names in this post – ‘England’ applies before the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707, ‘Britain’ afterwards.)
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:25 pm

A scholarly effort from Ivan, which cannot be faulted for accuracy.  British colonial history seldom makes for comfortable black-and-white judgments. The precedent for current opinion about Gibraltar must of course follow from our national determination to retain The Falklands in 1982.  Well within living memory, Gibraltar was also a huge player in World War 2, during which Spain was neutral.
 
In each case the desires and aspirations of the inhabitants to "be British" is the prime function.  Geography has nothing to do with it.  If that were to be the deciding factor, Jersey and Guernsey are surely French.
 
The name of Gibraltar's Chief Minister is Fabian Picardo, and he is leader of The Gibraltar Socialist Party.  For what that may be worth.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Penderyn on Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:32 pm

When the Normans ('English') finally took control of my country, they had a number of towns where foreigners clustered around a castle, having been encouraged to come and steal land. Owain Glyndwr destroyed most of them, and Henry V11 saw off the apartheid they represented when we beat the English at Bosworth. They would always have voted for Norman control, however, as would Al Capone's boys have voted for him. There's no principle here - it is a question of what benefit states get from controlling foreign territories. I think such possessions are over-rated.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by boatlady on Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:55 pm

If Gibraltar was returned to Spain, wouldn’t Gibraltarians still be British? It would be the land that was becoming part of Spain, not the people. And in any event, Britain, Spain and Gibraltar are all part of the EU, so why the big deal?

 precisely
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:25 pm

A British concept of "The Police" is comically inadequate when trying to comprehend the reality of involvement with the Spanish authorities. The Guardia Civil begin their enquiries with an iron bar applied painfully to the person. Before any question has been asked or your reply enunciated.

Inhabitants of Gibraltar know that they live only a few hundred yards away from that. Curiously, they choose the British way. There's nowt funnier than folk.

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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by tlttf on Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:17 am

Gibraltar is a red herring, Spain is so deep in the mire that anything that takes it's own corruption from the front pages is a welcome respite. What next give up on the Falklands?

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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:49 am

Absolutely correct, tlttf. I don't suppose the Number 10 rumour-mill is unhappy to have a diversion from reports of civil disobedience in Balcombe or Police interception of a transit passenger at Heathrow.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Penderyn on Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:53 pm

oftenwrong wrote:A British concept of "The Police" is comically  inadequate when trying to comprehend the reality of involvement with the Spanish authorities.  The Guardia Civil begin their enquiries with an iron bar applied painfully to the person.  Before any question has been asked or your reply enunciated.

Inhabitants of Gibraltar know that they live only a few hundred yards away from that.  Curiously, they choose the British way. There's nowt funnier than folk.  



A relation of mine has had experience of that lot, and who wants to force anyone to join them? It is like the Falklands though: there, the number of inhabitants of - in effect - a tiny village are being supported at vast cost, on similar grounds, but at least the Tory Government hope for oil profits from this con. We could easily support those Gibraltarians who don't fancy Spain, and what profit do we get from occupying this Spanish territory? Get 'em to make a deal and give up their Moroccan colonies in return, I say!
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:49 pm

If Spain really wanted "a deal" over Gibraltar they could have had one in 2002 when Labour Government Minister Peter Hain agreed joint sovereignty with his Spanish government counterparts.  The right-wing Prime Minister José Aznar López, however, declined to ratify the agreement-in-principle.

Gibraltar provides employment opportunities for thousands of Spanish people who live in La Linea, and saves their National Insurance scheme millions of Euros that would otherwise have to be paid out in welfare benefits in an area which has almost no other resources.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Penderyn on Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:35 pm

oftenwrong wrote:If Spain really wanted "a deal" over Gibraltar they could have had one in 2002 when Labour Government Minister Peter Hain agreed joint sovereignty with his Spanish government counterparts.  The right-wing Prime Minister José Aznar López, however, declined to ratify the agreement-in-principle.

Gibraltar provides employment opportunities for thousands of Spanish people who live in La Linea, and saves their National Insurance scheme millions of Euros that would otherwise have to be paid out in welfare benefits in an area which has almost no other resources.
So nobody want a change? There's NICE, mun!
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by David Head on Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:51 pm

Spain is responding to Gibraltar's creation of an artificial reef, not acting out of a wish to bring about change. Furthermore, Oftenwrong is right. Spain blew the chance to engage constructively with the UK over sovereignty of Gibraltar as recently as 2002. For the time being, the best course of action is probably to put the issue of longer term resolution of the Gibraltar question to one side (it is in any case complicated by Spain's Moroccan-based territories, which introduce the suspicion of hypocrisy on Spain's part) and to focus on a diplomatic solution, via the EU, to the current spat. In this regard, it is in the UK's and Gibraltarians' best interests to avoid any action that might be construed as provocative. Besides, both the UK and Spain have many more pressing issues to tackle and resolve.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:38 pm

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Only the Straits of Gibraltar separate Europe from unlimited marijuana production in the Atlas mountains of Morocco. The current allegations of "tobacco smuggling" are probably a code which incorporates the greater problem, and the artificial reef is part Gibraltar's attempt to control use of its territorial waters.

Keen observers will have noted the two governments' use of very fast patrol boats in the current event.  Go figure!
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by David Head on Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:47 pm

As I undertand it, "tobacco" smuggling was raised as an issue by Spain as an ancillary issue, with the artificial reef being the main reason for the crossing restrictions. But I think we are straying from the question Ivan raised. I still believe both countries have bigger fish to fry than the ownership of Gibraltar and also that Spain blew its best chance of making progress in 2002. An issue for better times, in my book.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Aug 24, 2013 7:27 pm

QUOTE: " An issue for better times ...."

An issue not unlike two bald men fighting over a comb, you might think, David.  The Spanish "don't like" Gibraltar in much the same way as France "doesn't like" Monte Carlo.  The affront to national honour is evident to all, but the incidental income is nevertheless rather nice to have.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by David Head on Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:43 pm

I am not arguing that the sovereignty issue should be swept under the carpet, but rather that it is best addressed once serious economic issues affecting both countries are tackled. Spain is likely to adopt a more measured position and be more interested in achieving win-win once it is out of the dire straits (sorry about the pun) in which it now finds itself, which encourages posturing as a distraction.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:54 pm

Posturing indeed is the right word. A cousin to "gesture politics", the endless desire of Politicians to be seen as doing something.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by David Head on Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:20 pm

I've just read in the German press that there are already signs of willingness to enter into four party talks (i.e. including Andalusia) over the fishing issue. So it looks as though the value of jaw-jaw is yet again being borne out.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Ivan on Sun Aug 25, 2013 11:09 pm

It’s a delight to read on this thread such balanced and sensible comments from David Head. I agree there are bigger issues with which to concern ourselves at present, but I do wonder if the time will ever be considered right to discuss the thorny issue of Gibraltar again? I hate to see EU members falling out and providing opportunities for the europhobes to spread their poison, as the breathtaking rubbish from Neil Hamilton, which is discussed on the following page, shows:-
 
http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk/t768p40-the-rabid-tories-and-their-convulsions-over-europe
 
As has been mentioned already, the Spanish missed their chance to engage constructively over Gibraltar in 2002. Furthermore, they often behave badly, with reports of untreated sewage being released into the sea near the Rock, along with their threat to impose a border crossing fee, which must be illegal under EU law. However, my instinct is that we should respect territorial integrity and negotiate either joint sovereignty or a return of Gibraltar to Spain, the latter on the condition that the Spanish do the same with their enclaves in Morocco.
 
And while we’re about it, I’d try to win a few more friends for the UK and give the Elgin Marbles back to the Greeks, since they seem to matter so much to them!
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by bobby on Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:44 am

Whilst all this is going on, the Spanish fleet of so called super trawlers are still allowed to sweep our waters clean of fish stocks, whilst our own fishermen are either out of business or only working for limited periods as are the traditional fishing ports.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:47 pm

Historical footnote

The Invasion of South Georgia (Spanish: Operación Georgias), also known as the Battle of Grytviken, took place on 3 April 1982, when Argentine naval forces seized control of the east coast of South Georgia after overpowering a small group of Royal Marines at Grytviken.

The Argentine intervention had begun on 19 March, when a group of civilian scrap metal workers illegally arrived at Leith Harbour on board the transport ship ARA Bahía Buen Suceso and raised the Argentine flag. The scrap workers had been infiltrated by Argentine marines posing as civilian scientists.

(see also "butterfly wing effect" theory.)
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:32 pm



Independent headline today:

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/gibraltar-this-rock-stands-in-the-way-of-our-national-interest-8748505.html

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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Bellatori on Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:23 pm

With general unemployment at >25% and 18->25 year old unemployment >50% Spain needed a diversion. When in doubt make a fuss over Gibraltar.

Frankly this business of its mine, its theirs over something that dates back 300 years seems a little childish. Is Spain going to hand back the Alhambra to the Moors any time soon?

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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Dan Fante on Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:39 pm

Bellatori wrote:With general unemployment at >25% and 18->25 year old unemployment >50% Spain needed a diversion. When in doubt make a fuss over Gibraltar.

Frankly this business of its mine, its theirs over something that dates back 300 years seems a little childish. Is Spain going to hand back the Alhambra to the Moors any time soon?
Or Ceuta and Melilla to Morocco, for that matter?
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:23 pm

I don't understand why Spain still holds on to those enclaves, which in reality are now principally holding pens for illegal immigrants from all over Africa who are trying to reach the EU.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Bellatori on Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:18 pm

oftenwrong wrote:I don't understand why Spain still holds on to those enclaves, which in reality are now principally holding pens for illegal immigrants from all over Africa who are trying to reach the EU.
Hi OW... you really answered your own question there. If they handed them back they would be like Italy and have to deal with the immigrants on their own soil...

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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:36 pm

Absolutely right, Bellatori. It's unjust that EU members closest to the North African Coast have to deal with the immigrant problem at first hand. The Canary Islands are a Province of Spain, and the authorities there often have no alternative but to allow the "illegals" to enter mainland Spain, for reasons of space on the archipelago. As Italians have on Lampedusa.

As a footnote, we should feel lucky to occupy a land which everyone else finds so attractive. But do we?
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by witchfinder on Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:59 pm

If Gibraltar was some uninhabited rock with no residents or population then I would say hand it over to Spain, but its not the land or the soil what matters, its the people who really matter, the ones who call Gib home.
 
Most Gibraltarians were born in Gibraltar, surely they have a right to determine who they are, or what their status is.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Ivan on Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:35 pm

If Gibraltarians have such an antipathy towards Spain, why do so many of them own second houses on the mainland?
 
Close to one million Brits live in Spain, but they're still British and have all rights associated with members of the EU. Would it be so onerous for Gibraltarians to have the same status?
 
I guess it all comes down to the argument of self-determination versus territorial integrity. Gibraltar was stolen from Spain in 1703 and the passage of time doesn't lessen a crime. Personally, I'd be happy to see Gibraltar returned to Spanish sovereignty (and I doubt if many of the inhabitants would notice much difference) - but on the condition that, at the same time, the Spanish gave up occupation of their enclaves in North Africa.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:16 pm

British people living in Britain are unlikely to appreciate the different attitude to civil rights which prevails in other Countries.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Bellatori on Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:30 am

Ivan wrote:...I guess it all comes down to the argument of self-determination versus territorial integrity...
At what point does one say that such an issue should be consigned to history rather than modern politics? 50 years ago? 100..? 200...? 500..?

In reality it is whether it is a convenient handle to beat someone with. Whilst Australian and New Zealand governments are trying to appease/console/do right by the original ethnic peoples I do not notice them offering to deport themselves and the rest of the interlopers and return the land to the aboriginal people. In that case we have put a limit of about 500 years. So no point in asking the French to hand Aquitaine back.Very Happy 

When I visit Canada I have the same wry amusement from the care with which they exhibit 'First People' rights. I can imagine (not) the Quebecoise returning to France in order to restore the lands they 'stole' from the native canadians Smile 

So what of Gibraltar? It is just a nice arguing point when the Spanish feel they need a bit of foreign argy bargy to distract from local events. We have the Falklands which keeps the Argentinians happy in times of economic trouble. It is almost like a social service that we offer. Very Happy 





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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Nov 03, 2013 12:25 pm

If geographical proximity were to be the only criterion for deciding the future of Gibraltar, we must immediately put a stop to those canny Scots trying to wriggle free of the Union !!
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Dec 17, 2015 11:50 am

It may just now be the moment for the Standard of "Gibraltar" to be raised once again in mainland Spain this week. On Sunday there is a General Election which cannot be accurately forecast, so anything and everything is likely to be thrown into the pot.

The ruling (Conservative) Partido Popular is anything but "popular" as a result of austerity measures that affected both Health and Education provision. In the most recent polls (which are illegal during the run-up week to an election) PP showed 28% support, with the Spanish Labour Party PSOE runners-up on 21% and new-kids-on-the-block Podemos in close pursuit at 19.9%.

Watch that space!

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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by Ivan on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:14 am

96% of those people in Gibraltar who voted in the EU referendum last year wanted to remain in the EU. However, as they also want to remain British, where does that leave the principle of self-determination which has prevailed with regard to Gibraltar for so long?
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by boatlady on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:44 am

Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Perhaps now it's time
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:29 pm

One thing I am sure of.  Thirty minutes after Britain declares that it is no longer part of the European Union ( or is told we're not by Brussels), Spanish military tanks will roll across La Linea into Casemates, Gibraltar airport will close to all traffic, and Guarda Costiera vessels will blockade the port.  God help the 30,000 Llanitos who voted to remain British.  They won't be welcome as refugees into May's Britain.
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First victim of Brexit negotiations ?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:49 pm



Brexit: MPs angered by EU 'veto' over Gibraltar

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39453535
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Let's bomb Spain back to the Inquisition!

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:27 pm

Wait, what's this about the UK being at war with Spain?

After being asked about Gibraltar on Sky News, former Conservative leader Michael Howard suggested the UK would have no qualms taking the same measures it took to protect the Falkland Islands. Which involved a war. Then the Telegraph ran an article suggesting the UK's Navy could cripple Spain's. It's been a strange day.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by boatlady on Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:45 am

Tories always love a war - it's a magnificent distraction - you get all the useful idiots out chanting 'help for heroes', 'Britannia rules the waves', and similar jingoistic nonsense and everyone forgets that their government is culling the poor and the disabled

Back in the day, I recall being harangued at length about the 'Argie threat' - what larks!
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by oftenwrong on Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:25 pm

" harangued at length about the 'Argie threat' "

Hold that thought, it could easily become front-page news again.
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

Post by boatlady on Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:40 pm

wonder what offensive soubriquet will be coined for the Spanish?
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Re: Should Gibraltar be returned to Spain?

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