The Gibraltar Controversy

Gibraltar At Night

Gibraltar At Night

I was happy to hear this last week that David Cameron has once again told the Spanish that Britain will not give up Gibraltar. I find it totally ridiculous that countries like Spain and Argentina consistently make ridiculous claims for ‘return’ of territory they have not had control of for many hundreds of years.

The peninsular first became part of Spain following the collapse of the Roman Empire but was overrun by the Muslim Moors in 700 A.D. It was annexed by the Christian Kingdom of Castile in 1309 but was once again lost to the Moors in 1333 who ruled until 1462 when it was again recaptured by the Spanish who remained in control until 1704 when it was captured during the War of Spanish Succession by an Anlgo-Dutch fleet in the name of  Charles VI of Austria who was  the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne. When the war ended the territory was ceded  “in perpetuity” to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It has been a British possession ever since then.

Guarding the Rock - WW2

Guarding the Rock – WW2

Thereafter, Gibraltar was besieged and heavily bombarded during three attempts by the Spanish to regain it but all were repulsed effectively. In fact, Gibraltar has faced fourteen sieges within the last five hundred years. Although attacked by German, Italian and Vichy French forces during the Second World War all were withstood. The last major attempt at subduing the people of Gibraltar was during the Franco era when he cut off all communications and sealed the border between 1969 and 1985. This also failed.

Cueta and Melilla - Spanish Territory In Morocco

Ceuta and Melilla – Spanish Territory In Morocco

So you see, this tiny peninsular of land has had more than its fair share of problems, but despite them all the people have never been defeated. During the last war it became a major Navy base for British fleets operating in the Mediterranean Sea, but today it has little strategic importance. However, it is as British as the UK with its red double-decker buses, red phone boxes and British traditions. For this reason I applaud the stance of our Prime Minister in telling the Spanish that so long as the people of Gibraltar want to stay British they shall have that right. I think it also behoves him to remind Spain’s Prime Minister, Rajoy, that Spain also has two enclaves in Morocco called Ceuta and Melilla that belong to Spain which they steadfastly refuse to hand back. They too are similar to Gibraltar in that they are on the coast near the narrows.

Gibraltar

Gibraltar From The Air

The reason this whole saga has hit the headlines is because the government of Gibraltar placed large blocks of concrete in the bay in Gibraltar’s territorial waters to deter Spanish fishermen  who regularly fish in them. The methods they use are particularly bad for the ecosystem because they trawl the seabed with nets that destroy the habitat of many species of sea creatures. The Spanish have been known for years for their ‘rape of the sea’, they even fish in North Sea waters and don’t give a fig for legal boundaries. Quotas mean little to them and they have put the fishing fleets of many countries out of business. I remember when the port of Grimsby in the UK had one of the largest fleets in the country, but now there are but a few boats left.

Qeues Waiting To Leave Deliberately Caused By Spanish Customs

Queues Waiting To Leave Deliberately Caused By Spanish Customs

But apart from all that there is the question of the sovereignty of Gibraltar. It has been in British hands for more than three hundred years as a result of a treaty the Spanish signed themselves, so what gives them the right to demand it back. Just supposing they did get it back, what then? In my view it would deteriorate into a useless hunk of rock at the southern end of the country. Living in Spain for many years has given me an insight into the way these people think, and I can say with utmost certainty that if it became Spanish, the Gibraltar tourist trade would dry up within a couple of years and given a few more years would look just like the other side of the border.

Inside' The Rock' Caves

Inside’ The Rock’ Caves

My wife and I go to Gibraltar regularly from Marbella and pass through La Linia which is the Spanish town on the border with Gibraltar, and I have seldom seen a more run-down place in all my life. Just driving through it is depressing. Much of the population in this small town work in Gibraltar and if wasn’t for this they would all be in big trouble. Practically every shop you go to in Gibraltar has Spanish staff, and as you walk the streets you hear Spanish spoken ten times more than English.

The "Britishness" Of Gibraltar

The “Britishness” Of Gibraltar

Gibraltar does have a certain charm with its quaint single shopping street, where incidentally most of the businesses are run by Indians or Pakistani’s, but it’s also the very ‘Britishness’ of the place, in many ways its like the UK used to be. The peninsular has an area of just 6.5sq.kms with a population of slightly under 30,000, and much of the land on the western side was reclaimed from the sea where now stand large blocks of apartments.

What visitors to Gibraltar have to endure:

The Apes Of Gibraltar - The Best Thieves On The Peninsular

The Apes Of Gibraltar – The Best Thieves On The Peninsular

It is a bustling place with many attractive tourist sites like the limestone caves and the Barbary apes that inhabit the summit. It has very nice beaches and is in many ways a nice place to visit. On top of all that it is a tax-free haven which the tourists, and I might add most of the Spanish locals, like very much. Everything considered, I am glad that successive UK governments have steadfastly refused to accede to Spanish demands that it be handed back, for it is as British as fish and chips and must remain so.

Roy.

One Response to “The Gibraltar Controversy”

  1. […] The Gibraltar Controversy (floroy1942.wordpress.com) […]

    Like

Leave a Reply to Snapshot Of History – First Siege Of Gibraltar – 1309 | History of Britain Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: