Gibraltar’s 50th Anniversary National Day was an outstanding success, with the video message from Prime Minister Theresa May being warmly received. Viewed objectively it fell well short of what was required. This was a one and only event, at a crucial time when the future direction of the British Overseas Territory is uncertain. In the previous post we set out the first five points of action that we asked the PM to initiate. The two points relating to the Royal Family visiting Gibraltar still need to be demonstrated. On three of those points she has failed to deliver and so we can judge with some accuracy what the real level of committment there is from the Office of the PM and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It does not look good. She failed to attend in person and as far as it is possible to ascertain she has never visited the Rock. No matter how detailed the briefings she receives, they cannot match seeing at first hand what the problems are and hearing directly from Gibraltarians what their experiences are; be it delays when crossing the border of up to five hours or being harassed by Spanish State vessels when they are fishing in their own British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
The strategic importance of Gibraltar does not require any explanation. In July the Ministry of Defence announced it is to spend £2 million upgrading its maritime monitoring facility overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. Sitting high above Europa Point the facility keeps an eye on 60,000 ships entering or leaving the Mediterranean or crossing between Africa and Europe. It plays a crucial role detecting any suspicious activity in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and logs all unlawful incursions by Spanish state vessels, as well as detecting the shipping of narcotics into Europe and combating the nefarious illegal transport of drugs and tobacco. Windmill Hill Signal Station, with its panoramic view, keeps an eye on traffic visually, over the radio and electronically. It feeds information back to the UK and its allies about all these activities and military movements.
In relation to the European Union, and the Hope and Vision for it, which we had but remains unfulfilled; our departure from the EU raises issues about what our future relationship will be, especially as there seems no desire by the core members of the EU and the Eurozone to reform their institutions. Our two areas of concern are the future of Gibraltar and the continuance of the special relationship with the Republic of Ireland through the British + Irish Council and the Common Travel Area. The threats arise from the EU failing to recognise the special status of Ireland by virtue of the Republic being a member of the CTA and of the EU.
CDP policies are framed by reference to the essential ‘six systems of community’ as listed in categories 2 to 7 in the sidebar to the right. Over and above those is the duty to ensure that the country is secure and stable; as this enables and allows the ‘six systems’ to flourish. Since ancient times the prime duty of a King has been to protect his subjects, mainly against external threats, but also internally by imposition of law and order. In modern times this prime duty, to protect its citizens, rests with the executive government overseen by the people’s representatives. The duty to protect its citizens can now be more widely defined to include environmental and health hazards, as well as the unscrupulous behaviour of conmen and carpet-baggers. However, for the elaboration and discussion of this category we are limiting our coverage to the three sub-elements of foreign policy, defence and civil protection.
There was a serious side to the previous post [The train now standing] because it is the start of a journey and the train has only just pulled out of the station, for it then to come to a grinding halt. There is apprehension that the train will reverse back in to the station. Passengers are now waiting nervously for an announcement as to how it is to proceed. Slowly and vaguely appears to be the order of the day. The official indication is the journey will start in January 2017 with the invoking of Article 50 and we will arrive at our destination, outside the EU, in 2019 with plenty of time to spare before the general election in 2020. Now that seems to be very optimistic and it is inevitable that delays will occur. The passengers will start to get impatient and demand more haste, but that is exactly what must not happen.
With the dust starting to settle following the EU Referendum we can begin to reflect on the result and divine from the entrails the future course of events. But first, an amusing look at the last month.
Oh! Mr Porter, what shall I do?
I want to go to Birmingham
And they’re taking me on to Crewe,
Take me back to London, as quickly as you can,
Oh! Mr Porter, what a silly girl I am.
This referendum is about change, versus more of the drive towards closer political union. Yes, Cameron returned from Brussels with a new semi-detached status for the UK. But, it was nonsense and such a good deal that the Remain campaign never mention it. Yes, EU President Tusk belatedly tells us that ten states are now signed up to reform. But, this is too late and unsure, and if they are the smaller nations their percentage of the double voting system will not carry much weight. It does smack of a ‘pig in a poke’. If he can firm it up and get all the 27 states on board, he may have a chance for post-referendum negotiations, but then we will be negotiating from a strong position because we will have voted to leave the EU. Voting to LEAVE is a win-win situation. Vote to Remain will result in them thinking they need not change and it will be business as usual.