This time last week we were all studying the runes in the Spanish press to see what we could read in to the meeting in Madrid on the Monday between Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and his British counterpart, David Cameron.
The Foreign Office had made it clear that Gibraltar wasn’t on the agenda: the visit was part of Cameron’s campaign to persuade EU leaders that reform was necessary. However the FO did later concede that Rajoy had raised Gibraltar.
Cameron’s response was to recite his mantra on self-determination and only talks if we wish it and are there under our own flag. Rajoy outwardly expressed his wish to engage in talks but added little more. It is hard to see why he would move from his two flags position although would try to include Gibraltar as part of the British delegation because he had included the Campo de Gibraltar on theirs.
Well we know that is a non-starter but Rajoy and Cameron posed for a happy smiling, handshaking photo call to let us know these two right wing politicians are in accord on matters other than the Rock.
On Tuesday it was back to normal. The Guardia Civil patrol boat Río Pas entered once again our waters and according to quoted diplomatic sources at the Foreign Office the Royal Navy saw them off. The British Ambassador was ordered to stop roasting his crumpets in front of the fire and to scurry round to the Madrid ministry of foreign affairs with a note.
They haven’t shown me the note but apparently it said London was fed up with the constant incursions by the Guardia Civil and Armada in to British Gibraltar territorial waters and it had to stop. If not William Hague is going to stop drinking Rioja. Trouble is many of the world’s wine producing nations are at odds with the UK over one thing or another so the Foreign Office carte du vin must be getting very short indeed.
What I find extraordinary is that one day Rajoy and Cameron are all lovey-dovey and the next Madrid sends a gun boat into Dave’s backyard. I know the Foreign Office has made being two faced into an art form but even the Mandarins would have waited to Wednesday.
As far as I am aware neither our Government nor the Convent has issued any statement on the Madrid talks or the Guardia Civil incident apart from the Foreign Office statement about Spain raising Gibraltar with Cameron. I know not the reason but it is one I approve of. Madrid knows that it can cause mischief by stirring up uncertainty when Spanish and UK government officials meet or watching us jump each time they poke us with a stick. There’s a time for protesting and a time for a sharp, knee in the diplomatic bags. On this occasion we were wiser to go for the later.
Now pass me my glass of Torres Viña Sol. Anything we can do to boost the Cataluña economy the better.