threaten Spain over Gibraltar. Really. This is what happened.
Rock of ages, cleft in three
Gibraltar is a British outpost on the southern tip of Spain.
An Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltar from Spain in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was subsequently ceded to Great Britain "in perpetuity" under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During World War II it was an important base for the Royal Navy as it controlled the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea, which is only eight miles (13 km) wide at this naval "choke point" and remains strategically important so to this day with half the world's seaborne trade passing through the strait. Today Gibraltar's economy is based largely on tourism, online gambling, financial services, and shipping.
The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major point of contention in Anglo-Spanish relations as Spain asserts a claim to the territory, despite recognising British sovereignty in several previous treaties. - Wikipedia
This is Spain's Hong Kong: a geographical part of their country is in foreign hands, which continues to be a national embarrassment. While it's true that they've recognised British sovereignty in several treaties it must be galling to look over from nearby La Línea de la Concepción to see British warships floating nearby. A part of me thinks, 'Germany must have felt the same way about France because it kept going after Alsace-Lorraine, and for the same reasons; their people were there.' However, the British have maintained a British population there that exceeds the Spanish so there's no hope of them voting out of British control in a referendum.
Brexit might see it ceded
At the behest of Spanish lobbyists Gibraltar's future is on the line: its place in the single market or in a future trade agreement is subject to Spanish "satisfaction" with the status of the territory. Basically, Spain can hold Gibraltar over Britain's head as a negotiating tool. O Gibraltar! Caught between British jingoism, wounded Spanish pride, and its own desire to remain in the EU. What the future holds remains to be seen but since the Union is in the process of breaking up due to the resentments the member nations have against England and its mismanagement of the Kingdom I can see Gibraltar being ceded back to Spain as part of a treaty to gain the market access we used to take for granted. Mind you I also "saw" Brexit fizzling out due to an outbreak of common sense, and Donald Trump spectacularly losing the US election on the grounds that he's a train wreck, so don't expect me to be right about this.
So then, with the Spanish having sneakily inserted their enclave-reclaiming agenda into the draft negotiating guidelines, the British are a bit naffed off, given that they thought they had a full deck of cards to play including migrant rights and security cooperation. Turns out that's not the case: we're just shooting (or running over) our own foot if we don't share information. Thus the Michael Howard meltdown in which he said:
‘35 years ago this week another woman Prime Minister sent a task force half way across the World to defend the freedom of another small group of British people against another Spanish-speaking country.
‘I am absolutely certain our current Prime Minister will show the same resolve in standing by the people of Gibraltar.’ - Theresa May ‘would go to war’ to defend Gibraltar, by Simon Robb for the Metro
Sigh. Try to imagine a British version of American Dad. That's the level of frantic jingoism going on here. They actually imagined really going to war with Spain. Rear-Adml Chris Parry, ex MOD said,
"We could cripple Spain in the medium term and I think the Americans would probably support us too. Spain should learn from history that it is never worth taking us on and that we could still singe the King of Spain’s beard." - Royal Navy 'far weaker' than it was during Falklands War but could still "cripple" Spain, by Laura Hughes for The Telegraph
The latest figures show the Navy has no aircraft carriers in service, 7 nuclear attack submarines, 13 frigates and six destroyers, down from a combined fleet of 33 in 2000.
Oh. We and whose navy? The Yanks won't help us out; they need to be on friendly terms with Europe since it is a major trading partner and fellow NATO member. Since Spain is also a NATO member and an EU member we may find that the EU sides with Spain against us and we'll find ourselves being escorted out of the Bay of Gibraltar with the warning, "Go home, Britain, you're drunk." I mean, what are they going to do, nuke Madrid?
Unrepentant Lord Howard repeated his statement to Channel 4 saying, "I see no harm in reminding them [of] what sort of people we are."
Idiots? Not me, mate. In any case it's a storm in an eggcup; turns out Tessa won't be sending a task force to Gibraltar to liberate its beleaguered citizens from Spain's clutches. She hasn't slapped Howard down for suggesting she might, though. Statements like that tend to get the response, "Alrighty, then. Let's go!" followed by a game of chicken. I think this began when the government realised that
King Felipe VI, accompanied by Queen Letizia of Spain, has accepted an invitation from The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom from 6th to 8th June 2017. - royal.uk
Awkward! Meanwhile, Spain, taking advantage of the situation, has changed its stance on Scottish accession to the EU in the event of its achieving independence. Basically, it's not just Gibraltar on the table, it's the whole freakin' Union.
Meanwhile, the Brexit brigade are gleefully discussing bringing back blue passports and restoring the old Imperial system of measurements. Basically, get used to arbitrary shifts in reckoning measurements: there's twelve inches to the foot, three feet to the yard, twenty two yards to the chain, ten chains to the furlong, eight furlongs to the mile, and three miles to the league. It's a doddle, really.
Can we let the sane people back in, please?