So much for the concept that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” as the Brussels Eurocrats blow with the wind. They are now demanding the December Agreement be framed in a legal binding format before talks can commence on the next phase of Article 50. Following the 2016 Referendum we warned that they were making the rules up as they went along and so it has proved. The pity is that May’s Government has allowed them to dictate the whole process in a desperate attempt to get a bespoke trade deal. Following the 2017 General Election, and her fall from grace, we again warned that she had put Brexit in jeopardy. Man does not live by trade alone, there are other things that are much more important. Unfortunately the political class, who are using every trick to undermine the Referendum result, continue to sow the seeds of confusion. Apparently we did not know what we were voting for in the Heinz Referendum. According to them there are fifty-seven varieties of Brexit and we must have another referendum to decide which one we want. We are being nudged towards a second referendum, just as we predicted.
What is a hard border and what is a soft border? Of all the issues thrown up by the UK exit from the EU the easiest to resolve was and is the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Both territories comprise the Island of Ireland, with its own distinct economy, that is dominated by the agricultural sector on which Great Britain is reliant. There is a shared history and family links cross the border, extending across the Irish and Celtic Seas to the other Island. The troubled relations between the two Islands has never been better. The Good Friday Agreement [aka the 1998 Agreement] that brought peace, also brought the time and space to foster a greater understanding of the other side, to a degree of reconciliation that many could never have imagined.
Words are important, they are what people live by. “I keep my word” or “My word is my bond” are hallmarks of someone who can be trusted, usually a person who is honest and has integrity. They say what they think and mean what they say. They are becoming a rare breed, but they still exist. In everyday situations promises are kept. When promises are broken so are reputations that can never be repaired. Politicians are not noted examples of the breed. In Parliament their speech is protected by privilege, but they can be held to account because they are recorded in Hansard.
Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place, Such a lovely face.
Plenty of room at the Hotel California. Any time of the year, You can find it here.
They livin’ it up at the Hotel California. What a nice surprise, Bring your alibis.
And she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”.
“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave”.
In 1977 the Eagles composed and recorded their most famous hit. The above abridged lyrics were written in a drug fuelled community with their original meaning a bit hazy. It is now generally accepted they related to growing up and living in the LA hedonistic culture; and about trying to escape that life-style.
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.