When a magician makes a flourish, an extravagant gesture or action, with one hand you should always look at what the other hand is doing. It’s the oldest trick in the book, distract attention from the real action with a highly visible, but ultimately meaningless, gesture. On a completely different note the Spanish government is having a row about Gibraltar.
In the year I was born (1969) General Franco closed the border with Gibraltar as part of an ongoing dispute over sovereignty and as a way to divert attention away from his declining health and loss of power. The border was only reopened when Spain joined the EU in 1985.
Although this closure caused initial difficulties, Gibraltar adapted moved from being dependant on Royal Navy money to become an important commercial and cultural success story. By comparison the Spanish border town of La Linea suffered massively because of the loss of employment in and trade with Gibraltar.
We now see a Spain mired in debt, struggling to deal with protests and with no obvious good news on the horizon, it is little wonder that it is cranking up the rhetoric about Gibraltar once again. Our position on this is clear and must remain unambiguous. The people of Gibraltar have made it clear that they are, and wish to remain, British and while that is their wish the British government must do whatever it take to ensure that they are protected. The border restrictions that Spain are talking about are illegal, just as they were in 2010 when , the mayor of La Línea, Alejandro Sanchez was rebuked by the Spanish government for attempted to impose a charge on people entering or leaving Gibraltar.
The row about Gibraltar won’t go away until Spain’s economic position improves but we owe it to the people of Gibraltar to stand firm until it does.