By the time you read this Operation Mischief will have begun. Correction: it has already begun.
I am not sure how you first heard the news that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is due to meet his Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, in Madrid on Monday. In all likelihood is was from the Spanish media. As I write this no press release from No 6 has been issued on the matter.
On one hand why should there? After all it is a meeting between the UK’s and Spain’s head honchos, both conservatives. One presumes they will be discussing bilateral and EU matters.
However it would be interesting to know was our government informed in advance of the meeting? Was the Convent? If the latter and not the former did the Convent tell out government? If not, why not etc etc.
I am sure there are more than enough topics to occupy Cameron’s and Rajoy’s time without touching on Gibraltar. Again as I write this there has been no formal statement from the UK that the meeting will take place. Perhaps they hoped we wouldn’t notice. Trouble is Gibraltarians read the Spanish press and have access to their radio and TV networks so the chance of such an encounter slipping us by is nonexistent.
Indeed the Spanish media and Partido Popular wouldn’t want it to either. The word in Spain’s press is that Gibraltar will be on the agenda. As the meeting is in Madrid Rajoy’s clerks probably wrote same agenda so that is no surprise.
So what is the scenario? Will Gibraltar and its sovereignty be on the agenda? Will Cameron refuse to discuss it without us being present and then state in no uncertain terms his mantra on our right to self determination adding in the Falklands for good measure. If that is the scenario then let’s hope so.
Yet is that good enough? Spain is challenging Britain’s sovereignty over our territorial waters. Spain is challenging our sovereignty over our airspace. Logically Gibraltar should be an issue and an urgent issue at that and so be on the agenda? At the top.
However if it is, if Cameron is going to Madrid for more than a photo opportunity and to down some Rioja and tapa, then we should be there too. If our territorial waters, our air space, our right to control our environment, which are all matters of sovereignty, are on the agenda then we should be there. Not our chief minister as a prime-ministerial bag carrier but under our own flag.
Of course if that happened then Rajoy would refuse to meet. Good. The sooner Spain understands that it cannot have it churros and eat it the better. The sooner it realises that it cannot challenge Britain’s and our sovereignty over Gibraltar, our Rock, the better. If that means that Rajoy loses an ally in Europe, so be it. So will Cameron play hard ball with Rajoy or show he has no balls at all: I suspect we know the answer to that one.
In the meantime time the Spanish media will cause mischief by churning out misinformation, sowing the seeds of doubt and creating the impression that two flag talks took place on a three flag issue. Of course all of this will fall on deaf ears here on the Rock. Ok on most of the Rock. There are still ‘palomos’ around who will feed eagerly off these crumbs and make a meal out of them. You have been warned.