Gibraltar’s rocky road to Brexit

The limestone outcrop on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, namely Gibraltar, is once again a bone of contention between the UK and Spain.

Blame Brexit for the latest spat.

No war but Gibraltar threatens to rock Brexit talks denisstaunton Hedgecoe & PatLeahyIT discuss w/ PatrickSmyth1 https://t.co/zTHrF7jOlL pic.twitter.com/ACbnAQ5dqM— Irish Times World (@IrishTimesWorld) April 4, 2017

The EU published negotiating guidelines for the divorce saying any decisions affecting Gibraltar would involve Madrid.

That set pulses racing.

Gibraltar has been in British hands since 1713 and the Treaty of Utrecht.

A remarkable 96 percent of the 33,000 inhabitants of this territory of 6.2 square kilometers voted to remain in the EU.

In 2002 in the Gibraltar sovereignty referendum 99 percent of the population voted to remain British.

Spain has long claimed the rock lost during the war against Anglo-Dutch forces.

How will Brexit impact on Gibraltarians?

Especially after the 2013 row when Spain simply reinforced border controls creating intolerable traffic congestion.

Isolation is a major fear and threatens the money makers on the rock: financial services, gaming and tourism.

Any border games by Spain will hurt the 10,000 Spaniards who work on the rock where corporate tax is 10 percent, that is lower than the 30 percent in Spain and 25 percent in Great Britain.

Comments by former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard poured gasoline on proceedings. He rolled back the years to the days of Margaret Thatcher and Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri:“Thirty-five years ago this week another woman prime minister sent a task force half way across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish speaking country and I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar,” he said.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis kept things light:“It seems someone is losing their cool,” he said.

Theresa May llama a Mariano Rajoy para explicarle el contenido de la carta del ‘Brexit’ https://t.co/sIIqm9JdgH pic.twitter.com/Nx5×6L5cg0— laSexta Noticias (@sextaNoticias) March 30, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to trivialise the comments saying her approach was “definitely jaw jaw.”

Just one reminder of the mass conundrum that is Brexit.

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