Spanish officials have invited Britain to share sovereignty of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo said:
“When it comes to the question of whether we will transfer all or any part of our sovereignty to Spain, our answer will never change. It is simple: ‘No way, Jose.’ You will never get your hands on our Rock. Never.”
Spanish ambassador Roman Oyarzun told the UN:
“Spain has formally invited the United Kingdom to open negotiations to reach an agreement so that the mandates of European Union treaties keep being applied in Gibraltar.”
This isn’t an isolated request as earlier in the year, just after the referendum, the Spanish government called for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar after the UK decided to leave the European Union.
95.9% of ‘The Rock’s’ 30,000 population voted overwhelmingly for staying in the EU.
Speaking on national radio, Spain’s Foreign Minister said:
“It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time.
I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before.”
The obvious military advantage of Gibraltar is that its geographic position enables pooling of resources for quick deployment throughout the Mediterranean which can be achieved by either air or sea with its dedicated naval port and air base.
But another, and often overlooked, reason which simply cannot be ignored is the ability to gather intelligence which the Rock of Gibraltar brings. We wrote more on the value of Gibraltar here.
This comes as a former Ministry of Defence adviser has said that Royal Navy warships should be sent to the territory to “protect it from Spain” while Britain negotiates a deal to leave the European Union.
Writing in Conservative Homes, Luke Coffey, director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies said:
“First and foremost, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Michael Fallon, and David Davis should make a joint visit to Gibraltar as soon as possible.
The Ministry of Defence should also make a grand gesture by increasing the Royal Navy’s visible presence in Gibraltar. This would send an important message to the Gibraltarians.
The UK needs to prepare for the worse. This could include maintaining a robust air bridge if the land border is closed. Also, in the event of a border closure by Spain, the UK must be prepared to respond with appropriate, firm, and proportionate measures against Madrid.”
Britain has no plans to enter any negotiations.