British, Spanish conservative Gibraltar sabre rattling

This video says about itself:

The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1858, relates to Robert Jenkins, captain of a British merchant ship, who exhibited his severed ear in Parliament following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731. This affair and a number of similar incidents sparked a war against the Spanish Empire, ostensibly to encourage the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract (permission to sell slaves in Spanish America).

One might think, now it is the 21st century, not the 18th. Robert Jenkins died long ago. Spain does not have American colonies any more, so British slave traders can no longer sell African slaves to them. The British and the Spanish governments are European Union allies (for as long as the Brexit negotiations have not been concluded). They are both in the NATO military alliance. The British Tory government party and the Spanish Partido Popular are conservative sister parties.

Yet, in 2013 both governments did military sabre rattling against each other about Gibraltar.

In 2016, British Royal Navy warships were ‘sent to Gibraltar to protect it from Spain’ during Brexit negotiations.

And today, from Reuters:

A former leader of [Prime Minister Theresa] May‘s Conservative party, Michael Howard, said she [May] would even be prepared to go to war to defend the territory, as then prime minister Margaret Thatcher did with Argentina over the Falkland Islands 35 years ago. …

“Thirty-five years ago this week another woman Prime Minister sent a task force halfway across the world to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country,” he said on Sky TV’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday. “I’m absolutely certain that our current prime minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.”

The opposition Labour party said such “inflammatory” comments would not help Britain get what it needed from the Brexit negotiations. “Sadly it’s typical of the botched Tory approach which threatens a bad deal for Britain,” the party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry said.

Spain’s foreign minister Alfonso Dastis refused to talk about veto rights when it comes to Gibraltar in an interview on Sunday, but said he viewed the EU’s stance very positively.

“When the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the EU partner is Spain, and in the case of Gibraltar the EU is therefore obliged to take the side of Spain,” he told El Pais.

As if the British government bombing Syria and Iraq, helping the Saudi autocracy bomb Yemen; Spanish neo-colonial soldiers in Africa; and the threat of war between nuclear armed NATO and nuclear armed Russia, or China are not already bloody warmongering enough …

9 thoughts on “British, Spanish conservative Gibraltar sabre rattling

  1. Late Sunday, former Royal Navy commander Rear-Admiral Chris Parry told the Telegraph, “We could cripple Spain in the medium term and I think the Americans would probably support us too.”

    “In terms of military capability we would vastly outnumber them and our capacity to do them harm is far greater.”

    Parry’s statement—and Howard’s bellicose posture—flows from their estimation of President Donald Trump’s open declarations of support for Brexit and for the break-up of the EU, which he has described as a German-dominated economic competitor to the US. Trump has in the past also thrown a question mark over the US commitment to NATO and the position of his government is still that the European powers must sharply increase military spending in order to ensure that the US continues to honour Article 5 of the NATO treaty—committing member states to mutual defensive action.

    Recklessness is not confined to the British ruling elite. Spain’s Popular Party heads a minority government, formed after months of electoral deadlock that is enforcing even deeper austerity. Its decision to push the issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty now comes alongside statements by Spain’s Foreign Minister, Alfonso Dastis, that it will not block Scotland’s membership of the EU—in the event that a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK is successful.

    Moreover, the decision by the EU to include Gibraltar in its negotiating stance with the UK is a sharp warning of the centrifugal national forces tearing apart the European and global economy.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out May’s demands that talks over the terms of Brexit take place in tandem with negotiations on its future trading relations with the bloc, while EU leaders insist that the UK must pay up to £60 billion in the final “divorce settlement.” A senior EU official told the Guardian that the EU was standing up for its members’ interests and “That means Spain now.”

    In the UK, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Fallon accused Howard of “sabre-rattling,” while Labour’s Emily Thornberry criticised his “inflammatory” remarks. But no section of the bourgeoisie can be entrusted with opposing the slide into nationalist reaction and war.

    Calling on May to draw up a plan to protect British citizens, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman Tom Brake said, “It is our obligation to support our overseas territories, and any attempt to brush off the importance of Gibraltar would be a dereliction of duty that would leave Margaret Thatcher spinning in her grave.”


  2. Tuesday 4th April 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    SPAIN urged Britain yesterday to tone down its rhetoric over the future of Gibraltar after former Tory leader Michael Howard suggested Theresa May would go to war over it.

    The Prime Minister would defend the British overseas territory as Margaret Thatcher did the Falklands, Lord Howard said at the weekend.

    The future of Gibraltar emerged as a potential issue in Brexit talks after European Council president Donald Tusk circulated draft EU negotiating guidelines suggesting that Spain would have a veto over its participation in a future deal.

    In TV interviews, Lord Howard repeatedly compared the situation to the Argentinian seizure of the Falkland Islands in 1982, to which Thatcher responded by dispatching a naval task force.

    Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis responded: “The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments regarding Gibraltar coming out of Britain, which is a country known for its composure.”

    Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, which has thousands of members in Gibraltar, said the government had not grasped the implications for local workers, who rely on being able to cross the border with Spain every day.

    He condemned “sabre-rattling and warmongering” by some Tory rightwingers.


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