16 Apr, 2024 @ 18:06
1 min read

Brexit talks have revealed Gibraltar cancelled ‘hostile’ Red Arrows display after pressure from Spain

The RAF Red Arrows display team perform during the annual Southport Air Show at Southport beach in Merseyside. Picture date: Saturday September 9, 2023.

BREXIT negotiations have revealed the UK cancelled a display by the Red Arrows last year after Spain warned it would be a ‘hostile act’. 

In leaked diplomatic cables reported by the Telegraph, the Spanish official allegedly said the reaction to the aerobatic display would ‘not be mild’. 

They reportedly deemed the display ‘unnecessary, unconstructive and provocative’. 

According to the British Embassy in Madrid: “It was clear that Spain is deeply opposed to the activity.”

In a further leaked cable, the Gibraltar governor, David Steel allegedly claimed to be ‘conscious’ that in the past few years, several events had been ‘turned off’, including ‘not least a visit of HMS Queen Elizabeth…just to appease [Spanish] sensitivities.’

READ MORE: Spain and the UK agree ‘general political lines’ on post-Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Gibraltar reportedly cancelled both a Red Arrows show and a visit from HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo: Cordon Press

The cables revealed multiple calls made to resolve the issue, resulting in ‘more explicit’ warnings. 

According to the Telegraph, Britain maintained the event would be within British airspace and it did not need permission from Spain.

However, Spain warned of retaliation if the event did take place. 

“If we back down now we will once again show a weakness that the Spanish will undoubtedly exploit,” Vice-Admiral and governor of Gibraltar, Sir David Steel reportedly said in the leaked cables. 

Nonetheless, shows over both Gibraltar and the island of Menorca were cancelled. 

READ MORE: Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo meets David Cameron in Brussels ahead of crunch talks with Spain and the EU

The sudden cancellation of Menorca’s event led to speculation that the decision was made under pressure from Madrid. 

At the time, the Ministry of Defence claimed ‘a wide range of factors influence whether these displays are able to proceed.’

A visit to Gibraltar by HMS Queen Elizabeth was also allegedly cancelled to ‘appease’ Spain, though a date was not given. 

It follows a spate of clashes between Britain and Spain during Brexit negotiations. 

The vice-president of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, also caused uproar after saying ‘Gibraltar is Spanish’. 

The comments were dismissed as ‘incomprehensible’ by the Spanish foreign minister, Jose Manuel Albares.

READ MORE: Gibraltar’s Fabian Picardo and David Cameron to meet with Spain’s foreign minister to thrash out post-Brexit deal

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