Spanish demands to change the EU statute book wording on the status of Gibraltar are stalling agreement exempting UK nationals from requiring the travel permit.

Gibraltar is currently titled a ‘colony of the British Empire’.

Spain would have it replaced with: ‘disputed territory on the UN list of “non-self-governing territories…subject to decolonisation”’.

The 26-member states have reluctantly agreed to include the footnote with Spain’s demands, yet the European Parliament rejected the language.

At this late hour, the European council are really being very brash with such a short time window to patch up the immediate issues that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would leave.

Brexit will hurt the EU and United Kingdom alike in the short term. To be throwing faux punches and jibes at this stage are creating further problems when they should be in fact trying to alleviate the blows. It’s comparable to leaving a relationship turned sour, where the best-case scenario would be for the two parties to hold their heads high and move on with their lives, however, what likely ensues is a pitching battle of vitriol and pyrrhic, often needless battles.

Current formal proceedings would see the UK remain visa-exempt until 2021. Thereafter, visas would be £7 for 3 years for UK nationals.

Should we crash out of the EU without breaking the impasse? British tourists will be left in legal limbo as the UK will be neither on the list of countries where a visa is required or among those with an exemption.

Fewer than 90 days may incur a £52 (60 euros) Schengen visa or be left waiting for the completion of bilateral deals before being allowed to travel.

If the Commons can agree to back the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, we would have 21 months transition period to allow more time for a solution to be found.

The Spanish request was blocked by France with provinces of French Polynesia and New Caledonia also being on the UN list of non-self-governing territories…subject to decolonisation.

The addition of “colony”, as noted by Labour MEP, Claude Moraes, is a political act that is unnecessary for this legislation to be enacted.

Should Spain Complain and Accuse the UK?

Northern Ireland is not comparable to Gibraltar given that the Good Friday Agreement is to remain during the Brexit process. May’s minority government is now stuck between a rock.

With populism on the rise in Europe, it’s an appropriate time for Spain to complain and accuse.

Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats power waning with each election.

Since 2017, Alternative for Deutschland, AfD, has been the largest opposition party in the Bundestag. They are right wing populist eurosceptics open to working with far-right groups like Pegida, feeding criticism they sympathise with identitarianism, neo-nazism, xenophobia and racism.

Austria’s Sebastian Kurz, Hungary’s Viktor Orban boasting of his “destiny-deciding victory” giving Hungarians “the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary”.

Viktor Orbán, leader of Hungary // Wikimedia Commons

Orban believes he is defending his country and the whole of Europe from the threat of Muslim marauding immigrants.

Swedish democrats, with roots in neo-Nazism won 18 per cent of the 2018 general election.

Marine Le Pen was runner-up in the French elections. Macron, only carries 28 per cent voter satisfaction now.

Le Pen competed with formidable candidates like Francois Fillon and Jean-Luc Melenchon in the last French election and survived.

The UK had the Scottish Referendum and the Brexit Referendum under the same Tory leadership of David Cameron, which would make him the worst in living memory. Fingerprint evidence all over the botched referenda.

Unabating populism in Southern Europe

Five Star Movement and the League, headed by Matteo Salvini, constituting the coalition government in Italy. Podemos in Spain and Alex Tsipras in Greece.

Given all this, why would it not be a good time for Spain to voice her objections, deflecting the attention from current challenges and restoring some of her national pride and identity with geopolitical postulating.

Why Should Gibraltar remain British?

There’s no need for the UK to consider having a backstop with Spain. Gibraltar voted (95.91%) remain during the Brexit referendum, yet the total votes cast were only 20,172.

If Gibraltar decided to leave the UK simply because it doesn’t like the UK’s decision to leave the EU, it doesn’t have much of an arsenal in its tool set to make waves. It can’t afford to have its own money. Would it print its own money for such a small population? More likely it would be cornered into adopting the euro.

If Gibraltar continued using the pound after leaving the UK, would that not then lead to continued manipulation?

EU membership is proportionally the most expensive when you have no money.

What if it went back to Spain and Catalonia seceded?

Gibraltar has a population of 33, 140 in 2015. It has an unemployment of 62 people in the 3rd Quarter of 2018.

That essentially means every Gibraltarian has a job. Nearly 84% of Gibraltarians make up its workforce.

Spain, on the other hand, has an overall unemployment rate of nearly 15%.
(seasonally adjusted, i.e. the figure could be higher during off season.) Spain’s youth unemployment rate is well in excess of 40%

GINI index for Gibraltar is unavailable but here are the GINI indices for the UK and Spain from the World Bank. It is used as a gauge of economic inequality, measuring income distribution with 1 representing perfect inequality and 0 perfect equality. Spain is heading up and the UK’s GINI coefficient is falling.

Given the dire economic condition that Spain is in at the moment, why shouldn’t its politicians and government distract its own citizens? This is by no means an isolated case. It’s indeed a worldwide phenomenon that has gone on since the dawn of time. With the election of Trump, the Americans and people from the world over are having more than a bit of consternation after all.

If you still recall Cristina de Kirchner of Argentina (President Argentina 2007-15), you will remember that she’d so many domestic political woes on many fronts. What did she do then? She made cries to reclaim Malvinas (Falkland Islands), condemned the UK with threats to prosecute British oil companies and called the islanders “squatters”. Loud and clear announcements that carried little substance but plenty of volume, all to distract her citizens from her domestic problems. The UK, on the other hand, simply ignored her.

Cristina de Kirchner – “Malvinas is ours!”

If Spain is indeed using the Brexit vote and Gibraltar as political pawns, it isn’t going anywhere.

I can clamour for Ariana Grande and Emily Ratajkowski all day long, but I can tell you it’d get me nowhere.