SO two months into the New Year and Brexit still means little more than Brexit. With Article 50 triggering next month, you wouldn’t want to be in Theresa May’s kitten-heeled shoes, even if her new pal in the White House thinks it will be a ‘wonderful thing for Britain.’
Meanwhile, everyone who lives in or around Gibraltar tries not to wonder too much what life will be like when the UK leaves the EU, taking the Rock with it.
My pal, a Wonder Woman in Gibraltar’s accountancy world, has no idea whether she, her company and half of financial services will be passported out when Gibraltar finds itself in the surreal position of being exiled from Europe politically but joined to it geographically.
What does ‘Schexit mean?’ is the real question for those of us who cross the border regularly. That’s Schengen Exit, which comes with Brexit. Will getting a jar of Marmite be more of a hassle after the axe falls? And will it cost five quid more if Foreign Minister Margallo’s replacement likes the old money-grubber’s idea of introducing a frontier fee?
Amidst the speculation, the Spanish are in no doubt at all what Brexit means to them: oportunidades. And one of those is a holiday beach resort nine tenths the size of Disneyland which they plan to build just up the coast from Gibraltar.
English City in La Linea will flaunt two five star hotels, 1,000 rental apartments and ‘views over virgin beaches to the bay’ (That’s the Bay of Algeciras or the Bay of Gibraltar, depending on your political viewpoint.).
“We see very clear future profitability and we have patented the name because we are going to direct it to the English market, taking advantage of the proximity of Gibraltar airport,” said the investors.
I’ve been trying to get my head around the concept since I first read about it in our local paper. The cool €150 million on the table says it’s not such a mad idea although, as it requires a change to the General Plan, it won’t be happening soon.
But why not British City, or will the Scots, Welsh and Irish be excluded? And will they want to fly all the way to Spain to stay in a fake version of what they can get back home for real? Coals and Newcastle spring to mind.
But what I wonder most is, how will they make it English? With kiss-me-quick hats and cockney Manuels running around with trays of Pimms and Twiglets which they’ll have to buy from Morrisons and declare through their own Checkpoint Charlie? Hm. The Spanish haven’t yet learned to make a decent English cuppa…
But have you crossed the border of late? The authorities are wasting no time – not generally a national trait – in transforming the old frontier post into a Star Wars force field bristling with retinal scanners and other biometric sci-fi.
The route through customs already matches a Grand Prix circuit for chicanes and hairpin bends. Think of the queues in summer!
Then add circa 4,000 extra tourists piling over the border every week and beam me up Scottie!