I finished my article in Panorama on Wednesday on the subject of the British EU crisis with the words: “There is however a serious point for the Gibraltar government to consider here. Gibraltar may or may not be a colony depending on how you read the status report. The Rock may have a strong degree of self-governance. Yet the fact remains that the decision on whether Gibraltar remains in the EU will not be made by the government of the day, or the Gibraltarian people even if they are given participation in a UK referendum, but in London. Furthermore, if the British Government decides to withdraw how the decision will affect Gibraltar will not even be taken in to consideration.”
Now this very point was reinforced on the BBC Today programme on Radio Four yesterday by Alex Salmond who is the First Minister in Scotland. He was spitting blood over David Cameron’s actions at the EU Summit because he says it damages Scotland’s interests. Indeed the point has been made that Cameron was laying back and thinking of England and has potentially made life very difficult for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with their devolved assemblies – and indeed Gibraltar.
Others have gone so far as to argue that Cameron’s veto has given a weapon to the Scottish Nationalists in their campaign for independence from England. Salmond sees the Cameron veto as ensuring a hostile environment for Scotland’s own fishery talks with the EU this week. Scotland wants to be part of the EU and Salmond hasn’t ruled out joining the euro in the future.
Now if Cameron isn’t worried about Scotland it is probable that Gib isn’t even on his radar. Conservatives have always been viewed as the party of the Union but an independent Scotland would create an England with a perpetual Conservative majority government. Scotland is far more vital to Ed Miliband and Labour because without its Scottish MPs it can never form a British Government. So does Cameron even care about Scotland and the Union?
My next question is who truly speaks for Gibraltar in Europe? Of course Gibraltarians fought any almighty battle to be represented in the European Parliament and are now part of the South West England constituency. I have praised Sir Graham Watson (pictured above), the Lib Dem MEP, here before for his sterling work speaking up for Gibraltarians in Europe and holding the British and indeed the Gibraltar government to account. With the Liberals forming a key component of the new Gibraltar Government Sir Graham’s role will become even more important.
Sadly the five other MEPs will be of little use in defending Gibraltar’s interests in wishing to be fully involved with the EU. Two, the Earl of Dartmouth and Trevor Colman, are members of UKIP which wants the UK out of Europe at all costs. The other three, Giles Chichester, Julie Girling and Ashley Fox, are all I am reliably told Euro sceptics at best. Hence only Sir Graham is available to argue Gibraltar’s case in a constructive manner.
Gibraltar has long had a London office to be its voice in the UK. Perhaps Sir Graham should be consulted on how Gibraltar can also make its presence felt in Brussels – a task which requires it to punch way above its weight (as always) to have the views of Gibraltarians listened to and acted on.
PS: Dychow-houlsedhas Pou an Zouzn is Cornish for South West England Constituency. Just thought you’d like to know.