Stephen Ball @MeteoGib
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Morning Call: The best from Gibraltar

A selection of the best articles about politics, business and life on the Rock from the last seven days.

 

1) Gibraltar border delays a priority for Britain, says Ed Miliband (GBC) 

Speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses conference in Manchester, Labour Leader Ed Miliband called border delays in Gibraltar an issue of "deep concern" and stated that a resolution should be a priority for Britain. 

 

2) Spanish ambassador summoned by UK Foreign Office after "serious incursion" (BBC) 

The Foreign Office has summonsed the Spanish ambassador following the incursion of a Spanish ship into waters off Gibraltar. European Minister David Lidington has strongly condemned the act, calling it "unlawful" and "dangerous".  

 

3) Protests increase over Gibraltar's planned Europa Point football stadium (The Olive Press) 

Over 5,000 people have now signed the petition to halt Gibraltar's new football stadium, to be built on Europa Point. The stadium is opposed by two of Gibraltar's most influential environmental organisations, which argue the environmental impact has not been considered and that planning has been rushed through.  

 

4) Gibraltar government policy to understand autism, says Samantha Sacramento (Gibraltar Chronicle) 

Gibraltar's minister with responsibility for people with disabilities, Samantha Sacramento, reached out on Wednesday to the community in order to foster greater understanding and awareness of people with autism, and highlight the government’s commitment to the cause.  

 

5) Ben Okri delivers sell-out "Gibraltar Lecture" in Oxford (Gibraltar Chronicle) 

Last Saturday saw Nigerian author Ben Okri deliver the inagural "Gibraltar Lecture" at the Oxford Literary Festival, introduced by the Minister for Tourism, Commercial Affairs, Public Transport and the Port Neil Costa. Okri will also speak at the next Gibraltar Literary Festival.  

 

6) Spanish and Argentine towns twin in protest over Falklands and Gibraltar (The Telegraph)  

The Spanish port town across the bay from Gibraltar has been twinned with the Argentine city from which the Falklands invasion was launched, "sparking new outrage in the tiny British Overseas Territory at the foot of Spain", says the Telegraph

 

Photo: Getty
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Promoted

Gibraltar and Europe: caught in the slipstream?

The British papers are full of who has the lead in the European in or out campaigns – Guy Clapperton considers the fallout for the smaller territories

Let’s start by acknowledging that there is no clear pattern emerging in the Europe debate, as long as we understand “Europe debate” to mean whether the UK should stay in or leave the European Union. This week alone we’ve seen Boris Johnson “warning Obama off” (as the BBC put it) getting involved in the debated, the same London Mayor and MP having a radio spat with Chuka Umunna involving telling each other to man up and various insults traded as either side accuses the other of scaremongering or making it up as they go along.

Divining who’s going to win is more difficult. The Daily Telegraph reports that “out” has it by a tiny margin but, crucially, the anti-Europe vote is likely to be more motivated so will actually show up on the day, expanding the margin by which it will win. Meanwhile the Times’ daily Red Box email points to Elections Etc. whose research suggests a 58% “remain” vote but with a plus or minus 14% error margin; so somewhere between 44% and 72% will go for staying in the EU. This, readers will note, tells us precisely nothing.

So the outcome, even if there weren’t 100 days in which Presidents and world leaders will offer counsel, claims and counterclaims will be made and the “leave” campaign will eventually decide who the official “leave” group actually is (there are two factions at the moment, doing the best impression of the Monty Python Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea that they can manage), we wouldn’t want to call a snap referendum even if it were to be called this afternoon.

What’s clear is that the outcome will ripple beyond the British mainland’s shores, and the ramifications of an “out” vote are already being felt on Gibraltar. Anyone doubting this should check today’s Times (subscription required), in which the Gibraltarian Chief Minister Fabian Picardo highlights recent Spanish statements about what would happen in the event of a Brexit.

Spain actually caused a few eyebrows to raise and some other people to panic just a little with its recent statements. Essentially the country’s foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, suggested that there would be conversations on the sovereignty of Gibraltar the “day after” an announcement of a British exit, according to the Daily Mail and other reports. He also said (much, much further down the report) that he didn’t want Britain to leave: “God forbid” is the phrase he uses.

He raised the idea of joint sovereignty once again more recently, reports the Gibraltar Chronicle, this time suggesting that if Britain leaves Europe then Gib could do what it nearly did (he says) in 2002 and start transitioning towards Spain. This is an interesting definition of “nearly” when 98.48% of the electorate actually voted not to do so, but remaining British when this might exclude the Rock from Europe would inevitably raise different issues if not a different final outcome.

Outside Gibraltarian interests the effect could be more severe than that. SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made no secret of her wish to make a fresh case for Scottish independence. The once-in-a-generation referendum on this was lost in 2014 but should Britain exit Europe with a majority of Scots clearly demonstrating that they want to stay in, the case becomes stronger (although the collapse of the oil price would blow the original blueprint out of the water).

So we could end up with Scotland as well as Gibraltar wanting to remain in Europe while Britain made its exit. Whether this would be legally possible if both stayed tied to Britain is untested as yet – and with Spain eager to enter talks the day after an exit is agreed but the Gibraltarians implacably opposed to becoming Spanish, the way forward would not be clear.

Guy Clapperton is the freelance journalist who edits the New Statesman’s Gibraltar hub. You can also find him in the Guardian, Computer Business Review and Professional Outsourcing which he edits.