We’re already losing N.I. - are we about to lose Gibraltar too?
Why are the border guards of a foreign (EU) power to be deployed at Gibraltar airport?
© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2021
Brexit is by no means 'done', when very serious issues like this remain
On New Year’s Eve, a deal was done on Gibraltar, which is excluded from the new UK-EU ‘trade deal’ because of a veto granted to Spain.
“Under the agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Schengen's closest member state [Spain – Ed.] will be the one that will be taking responsibility for what happens here as regards the European Union under the treaty.”
- Fabian Picardo, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, 31 Dec 2020
What, who, where is Gibraltar?
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. Its head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented locally by the Governor of Gibraltar. For centuries the people of the United Kingdom have been able to arrive in Gibraltar, be greeted by Gibraltarian border guards, and step onto British soil.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary
This is all set to change under the latest plans provisionally agreed between the UK and Spanish governments.
Once you are waved through by Gibraltarian border guards you’ll be faced with the EU’s Frontex force,
before being able to enter the supposedly-British, supposedly-sovereign, territory of Gibraltar.
Just what has the Government agreed to this time?
On New Year’s Eve, (31 Dec 2020), the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced:
“Working side by side with the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, and following intensive discussions with the Spanish government, we reached agreement on a political framework to form the basis of a separate treaty between the UK and the EU regarding Gibraltar. We will now send this to the European Commission, in order to initiate negotiations on the formal treaty.”
As ever, the devil will be in the detail, and so far the detail does not look good
It was Spain’s Foreign Minister, Arancha Gonzalez Laya, who first announced the deal at a press conference in Madrid. Evidently pleased, she told the press that Gibraltar will become part of the EU’s Schengen zone: the supposedly-free travel area within all EU member states. (As we have previously reported, the EU’s Schengen Zone hasn’t functioned properly for many years - long before the Covid crisis.)
Mrs Gonzalez Laya went on to explain that Schengen controls will be applied at Gibraltar's airport and port "with the assistance" of the EU’s Frontex officers. She added that Spain, as a Schengen member, would be "the guarantor" of those checks.
Gibraltar’s Chief Minister has been at pains to explain that no members of the Spanish border guard will police the border at the airport and port, but he seems to have glossed over four important points.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary
- The EU’s Frontex force is that of a foreign power – the EU – and it will have rights on UK soil
- Gibraltar will become part of the EU’s Schengen Zone – and subject to EU Schengen directives
- The Frontex border guard comprises nationals of all EU member states, including those from Spain
- According to Spain's Foreign Minister: “At the border, the practical result is that the fence comes down”
A brief summary of the background and the importance of Gibraltar
New British aircraft carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth © MoD - click to enlarge
Gibraltar occupies an area of 2.6 square miles at the southern tip of Spain. Crucially Gibraltar has geographical and therefore strategic significance, with a large British naval base and an airport used by both civilian airlines and by the RAF.
Militarily Gibraltar has further importance for the United Kingdom and its allies. It is home to a location of UKSIGINT – the network of signal interception stations all around the world. This network is part of what makes the UK a leader in the global western intelligence community – a status which the EU has yet to achieve.
Gibraltar has been British for more than three centuries (307 years), since the Treaty of Utrecht when Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity. In the 1950s, Spain’s fascist government of General Franco laid claim to Gibraltar – a claim which persists to this day.
In Gibraltar’s 1967 referendum, 99.6% voted to stay British which resulted in Spain severing the land border with Gibraltar as well as all communication links. It was a severe action taken by Spanish dictator Franco to beat the plucky Gibraltarians into submission. This action by Spain had followed years of increasing restrictions placed on Gibraltar by the Spanish, and the Gibraltarians never buckled.
The Spain-Gibraltar border was only fully re-opened in 1985 – and the Spanish only did this because it was a condition of Spain joining the then EEC.
Gibraltarians voted massively to stay British - 53 years ago, and again in 2002 rejecting a 'shared sovereignty with Spain' deal dreamt up by the FCO. In each case they voted by 99% for full British sovereignty.
In 2016 they also voted massively to remain in the EU - by 96%. Their reasons were of course very regional, and based on deep memories of the actions of the Spanish to them in the past. Nevertheless, once the rest of the UK's majority decision was clear, they stood behind the UK.
In the coming months negotiations will take place between the UK and Spanish governments, as well as with the EU, and the fate of Gibraltar will be decided in the details of the treaty which will then be signed.
This time there is absolutely no excuse. MPs have time to start raising this issue in the Commons, well before any treaty is placed before them to vote on. Now is the time to ask the difficult questions - and to stand up and be counted.
Gibraltar is British, strategically important, and it must NOT be sacrificed - and neither should Northern Ireland.
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[ Sources: Foreign & Commonwealth Office | Gibraltar House of Assembly | Gibraltar Chronicle and Spanish press ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 12 Jan 2021
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