26 Oct, 2016 @ 12:55
4 mins read

The day Spain’s foreign minister Jose Margallo staked his claim for Gibraltar on trip to the Campo

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img_7065JOSE Manuel Garcia Margallo wasn’t hanging around for dessert.

Spain’s acting foreign minister exited his much-vaunted Hotel Guadacorte Park luncheon and headed for his royal-blue Ford limousine.

For the past two hours, he had regaled 250 Campo politicians and businessmen over beef and Navarra red. They had listened to – and occasionally applauded – his grand plan for Gibraltar.

The British Territory’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and some 100 Gibraltarian politicos and organisations who were also sent invitations to lunch had declined. They would have choked on it.

Now it was time for the PP minister to return to Madrid … and one last question.

“Mr Margallo, why are you persisting with a plan that so clearly won’t have the consent of the UK government or the Gibraltarian people?” I asked the departing figure as a phalanx of officials ushered me aside.

“Joint sovereignty will come with the consent of the Gibraltarian people,” he answered.

“But they aren’t going to give their consent?”, I suggested.

“I think that will come,” he replied before disappearing behind a darkened car window. The words carried more than a hint of menace.

img_7097Welcome to the new Margallo. Same as the old Margallo. Gibraltar’s public enemy number one blew into Algeciras last Tuesday on a gust of hard-nosed plans and diplomatic bonhomie.

Fired up by the Brexit Leave vote, this was the day Margallo planned to outline his scheme for joint sovereignty over Gibraltar to Andalucia’s movers and shakers.

It was supposed to signal the start of a more conciliatory approach from the controversial politician. In truth, it was more of the same.

First up was an Algeciras Town Hall reception, where the city’s mayor – and Margallo supporter – José Ignacio Landaluce warmly embraced his fellow PP representative, Inside the Town Hall’s ornate chamber, Margallo signed the book of honour. Landaluce pinned the city’s insignia onto Margallo’s lapel. In return, Margallo presented a copy of his 2015 political book All The Clouds Fly To Spain: Letters From An Aeroplane.

He was soon outlining his vision of post-Brexit, cross-border relations.

“Nothing is going to be the same because the UK leaving means Gibraltar has to leave too,” he said.

“This is going to cause economic commotion for ‘the colony’ (sic) and it’s an historic opportunity for the Campo de Gibraltar.

“We are in new times.”

img_7100Margallo went on to speak about wishing to preserve the Rock’s wealth. But, of course, this is a man who has also expressed a wish to plant Spain’s flag on the Rock. So when Margallo issues fine words about having Gibraltar’s best intentions at heart, Gibraltarians are understandably, sceptical. At best.

Margallo’s three-pronged assault on the Campo de Gibraltar’s political class next took him the short drive to the Mancomunidad de Municipios, which represents the Campo’s seven municipalities.

The media scrum circling the press conference lectern had a long wait. Inside, Margallo was hammering out his ideas to Campo politicians during his first visit to the area since taking office. After an hour and 45 minutes, he finally reappeared and addressed the press corps.

“We are at an historic change,” he announced. “One of those changes that come along very few times in history. From this moment, nothing is going to be the same.

“It’s the not the same, ‘the colony’ of Gibraltar with the UK in the EU and Gibraltar with the UK outside of the EU.

“It’s true that it takes a long time to change mental habits,” he said, a tellingly derogatory phrase used to describe Gibraltarians’ strongly-held allegiance to British nationality.

“And yet, in some minds there exists the illusion that because the UK is leaving the EU, the Gibraltar ‘colony’ can maintain the same status it has now, where the citizens of Gibraltar can be British citizens while enjoying the benefits of belonging to the EU.

“But that can’t be, and is impossible.”

Margallo went on to describe the four ‘pillars’ of his plan.

“Joint sovereignty between Spain and the UK,” he continued.

“We have to resolve the problem of the Gibraltar military base. Thirdly, Gibraltarians to have joint British and Spanish nationality, a privilege that only they would have. Autonomous government as outlined in the Spanish constitution.”

When asked by GBC’s Jonathan Scott what he would do once Gibraltarians rejected his ‘deal’, Margallo was unequivocal.

“There are automatic consequences,” he intoned. “Gibraltar becomes a third party to the European Union. Therefore the frontier becomes an external frontier of the EU.

“Gibraltar will be outside the single market. The four freedoms will cease to apply. That’s exactly what the EU treaty says: it’s not what we say we will do, it’s what will happen.”
I then posed another question. “The UK government has told you very clearly that Gibraltar will stay British,” I say to him. “Why do you think they are going to change their position now?”

“The jurisprudence of the court of European justice says Gibraltar is a colony that doesn’t form part of the UK,” a clearly riled Margallo rapped back.

“What we are trying to do is search for a formula that allows Gibraltarians to continue being part of the EU without losing their idiosyncrasies.”

‘Idiosyncrasies’. Another carefully chosen, derisory word?

Over lunch at Guadacorte Park, Margallo affected statesmanlike pomp, quoting Churchill and welcoming the gathered throng. But the mask slipped as he took a series of questions submitted in writing by the lunch guests. Among them, was one on the Gibraltar national football team.

“We have done everything to stop Gibraltar having a national team, and every time they play we do everything to ensure it has the least impact possible,” he said, before shrugging his shoulders and flashing a smile at the audience.

Football will always bring out a crowd’s partisan nature. But what Margallo has outlined is deadly serious. And it has to be asked if UK politicians really appreciate the gravity of what Margallo is proposing for Gibraltar.

Joe Duggan (Reporter)

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  1. The man is an incompetent loser from an irredeemably fascist political party. His words are total and complete garbage.
    Don’t push the UK and Gibraltar because we tend to push back far harder.

    • lol….could not have put it better myself….the fat incompetent baffoon should concentrate more on his diet….he stands more chance of pulling that off…!!!!

  2. Now that the PSOE have done the dirty and allowed Rajoy to crack the whip again, it follows that Margallo will feel his political power returning and will be itching to get his grubby hands on The Rock. It does not bode well. Yet another tangle from the stupidity of Brexit.

  3. We shall hold firm Snr Margallo. Very firm, and you will join the long list of Spanish foreign ministers who have railed against Gibraltar and failed. Spectacularly.

  4. What margallo has to do is to close thr gate.
    Nobody wants any kind of relationship with a tax haven, smugglers paradise and illegal gambling den like gibraltar

    • Brainwashed with fascist propaganda. I guess it’s a simple thing to do in a country like Spain with a population of poorly educated yokel’s.
      You do realise that if the border with Gib is closed the UK will make Gibraltar a part of the UK. Spain would then be closing the ‘gate’ on ALL trade and diplomatic relations with the entire UK…
      Britain will not take a border closure as lightly as they did in the 70’s.

    • Not sure why you feel the need to use my Bluemoon handle but feel free. The more we promote Manchester City the better. We walk over the remains of hundreds of your compatriots every day on the way to work here in Gibraltar. Proof if proof were needed of Spain’s inability to take the Rock by force even when asking the French to help them. But hey ho. Have another go in order to distract from your failing economy and corrupt institutions. Enjoy your cheap cigarettes while we process a quarter of all bets in Europe and pay our taxes according to our laws and enjoy our second homes on the Costa.

  5. A sovereignty claim without a legal case can only be described as illegitimate and worthless. Google: ”Gibraltar – Some Relevant International Law” and laugh at Spain’s claim to Gibraltar.

  6. It is cruel to compare Margallo with Churchill. In my opinión his proclaims are premature. But his generous ofert can be the outcome of his filantropic concern about the inhabitants of Gibraltar. Personal y I prever to close the gate.

  7. I find it difficult to believe that the European Court of Justice would allow thousands of Gibraltarians to be dragged out of the EU and deprived of their rights as EU citizens against their will. Just because the UK is set to leave, why does Gibraltar, a separate territory, have to follow? I hope that Gibraltar citizens, or even the Gibraltar Government, find a way to bring a case before the ECJ, preferably before Mrs May has triggered the Article 50 exit process.

  8. Why is this geezer so obsessed with Gibraltar and what exactly does he want to do with it? If culture of Gibraltar changes it immediately loses its unique appeal. Can’t he see that Gibraltar benefits the surrounding area and creates jobs and business opportunities for Spaniards?

    This is another negative effect of Brexit and yet another reason why the UK must remain in the single market and the customs union.

    • Not exist a culture of Gibraltar, nor of Madrid, nor of Liverpool. We can speak about tipism or localism.

      The problem of Gibraltar , is not about bussiness, is about the territorial integrity of Spain. A state that not work for to defend his territorial integrity eventually dissapears, his citizens are dead, opresed
      by the invader states, of by local warlords.

  9. Come on, Margallo isn´t that fat! Picardo is. Difficult dilemma in years ahead, what are the spanish socialist going to do with ols the money treasured in Gibraltar vaults? Margallo duty towards his positión short of treason is as stated.

  10. There’s a lot of gung-ho jingoistic froth in the article and later comments but what do people think it’s likely for Garcia Margallo to actually do and how do you think the UK and the rest of the world might respond?
    Perhaps Garcia Margallo has looked at the international response to countries suffering land grabs by their less resourcefull or larger neighbours and thinks there will be a tidal wave of condemnation and angry speeches at the UN and elsewhere but not much more, and he’ll go down in history as the man who reclaimed Gibraltar and pushed the UK off its “superpower” pedestal?
    Or perhaps he thinks more business as usual will make a difference?

  11. Very difficult problem this and of course it has been for hundreds of years now.Particularly every time Spain lays claim to Gibraltar.

    However as always the people of Gibraltar say they are British and UK citizens. The Gibraltar is part of the United Kingdom who voted to leave Europe. Therefore as part of the UK Gibraltar will no longer be part of the EU.
    I am not knowledgeable enough on Gibraltars economic situation to state what effect not being part of the EU would have on it,s economy but presuambly the UK would offer assistance.
    Gibraltar wil be in the same boat as Scotland and Northern Ireland when it comes to Brexit so it is in the balance. But surely if Gibraltar was forced out of the EU as being part of the UK then Spain would have no claim to it whatsoever.

    There is of course another possibility in that Dictator May having already apparently struck a deal with Nissan that leaving the EU would not affect the companies factory in Sunderland. This after Nissan threatened to move out of the UK if Brexit was detrimental to the companies business in the UK.
    There is also a rumour that she may (no pun intended!!!) assist the City of London,s Banking and Financial Institutions to prevent them moving to Germany or France.

    One thing is for sure. The posturing of Margallo will end up in embarrassment for him as whatever happens through Brexit Gibraltar will NEVER be under Spanish rule.

  12. So there is a God!!! I’m sure all right thinking people are glad to see the back of Margallo. His successor is Alfonso Dastis, a former diplomat and EU ambassador, so that has to be a great improvement.

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